Zest Lit Issue 2, October 2013 - Page 186

desolation of some no-man’s land beyond this space and time: a single languorous cactus in a desert sandstorm.

Okay, he said. Just let me finish my coffee.

He looked at the cup as he lifted it to his lips. As his head tilted back he caught a glimpse of her face, her sorrowful face staring into her coffee, and then as he sipped he became aware of the large array of window squares, the panes of which now seemed totally opaque. He could see nothing outside.

The radio was on. He thought it was some Eastern European poet talking. The talk was something about undiscovered treasures and mental lapses. He didn’t understand.

He placed his cup on the tabletop. She was looking at him now. He returned her look and for a brief period their eyes locked. What went through his mind was a blur of regret and longing. Each turned away, unable to hold the gaze.

He looked at his cup sitting on the table. He looked at the sugar cube standing nearby. He noticed that she had rested her hand palm down, the tips of her fingers just touching the edge of the tabletop, her palm hovering in the air in the space above the dirty wooden floor.

He stared at her hand. Her thin, delicate fingers pressed lightly on the tabletop. He was stirred by the apparent lightness of her hand, by its buoyant motionlessness, as if it were floating in the thick smoke-filled air like a fragile bird levitating over a brooding sea. He felt a strong urge to touch her hand, to caress it while speaking words of love and redemption. But he felt clumsy and inept, unsure of himself, of his own feelings and intentions. And of hers. He stared at her hand, and as he did, his desire intensified.