We met at the cafe with uncomfortable chairs. It was my suggestion. They always had something small and vegetarian you could eat while you sat on the uncomfortable chairs, and I was small and vegetarian. I wore stockings with a back seam of little black hearts because it was Valentine’s Day and back seams are sexy. We hadn’t had sex yet.
I’d spent the entire afternoon making tiny Belgium biscuits – sandwiching them together with raspberry jam and icing them pale pink, with sugar crystals. I put them in a clear container and tied it with a ribbon and a note. You didn’t get me anything.
I was ravenous but you’d already had dinner. I ate slowly and let you eat some too, because you are always hungry. I didn’t know that then because I didn’t know you then. The air between us was so electric I kept getting a shock.
It started to rain. We went to the cafe with the courtyard and sat outside for a little while, but I got too cold. Even with your jumper wrapped around my shoulders, my skin was all goosebumps. Inside, you bought a piece of carrot cake, which is my favourite cake but I didn’t know that then. I ate some of the icing, because I have always had a big sweet tooth and all of your teeth are very small.
I squished the cake crumbs into a ball with my fork. A very small ball. I cut up the ball. I swirled the crumbs around the plate. My eyes did not leave that plate while I told you. My eyes had tears in them, but you didn’t know that until a few months later. I finished telling you. The plate was covered in scratches.
When the Person You Love Leaves You in the Night
When the person you love leaves you in the night, it is only natural to get out of bed and follow them. It is also only natural for your pyjamas to be all crumpled and your hair sticking up at the back. It is only natural to feel confused, and alone.
Nine times out of ten, a light will be on and you will walk into the living room, squinting. The person you love will probably be making human body parts out of plasticine, or playing video games. They will look up and say ‘Hello’ and smile at you like you’re some kind of lost baby animal. You will feel a little bit found.
If there is no light on in the house, it is important that you check the garden. If there is no garden, check the balcony. The person you love will be out there, staring at the moon and not crying. You are the one who cries. Except that one time... and the other. Don’t ask them if they’re okay because they will just say ‘Yeah’. Besides, you are the one who was left alone in the night.
Just look at them in the moonlight, and let them look at you. Stay very still. Then take their hand in slow motion and walk to the kitchen. The person you love will follow you, and so will the moon. Pour some milk into a pan and simmer gently. You will see a quivering white circle. The moon will be in there somewhere. Slice cheese onto bread and turn on the grill.
When you have two pieces of cheese-on-toast, put them on a plate. Pour half the milk into the mug with Peter Rabbit on it and half into the souvenir mug from Sweden. There will be sugar on the floor and it will stick to your feet. Swing yourself up onto the kitchen bench. You and the person you love will sit with your feet dangling side by side. The sugar will fall without a sound. You will drink your milk. The person you love will eat their grilled cheese, with sips of milk in-between. Peter Rabbit will eat his radishes.
Congratulate yourselves for drinking calcium. Sit at opposite ends of the couch with your legs tossed over their legs. Talk until you wake up the birds.
It is important that at some point during the night the person you love reminds you that you are the person they love. It is also important that they thank you for the grilled cheese. If they don’t, give them a pen and a piece of cardboard. Drop them on the side of the road. Tell them, ‘You can hitchhike from here.’
Joy Holley is currently studying English, Philosophy and Creative Writing at Victoria University. She finds supermarket shopping stressful because she spends all her money on records, lingerie and nut butter.