THEY sat alone.
Except for, the thoughts that ran unsaid, internal ticker tapes broadcast through body language and eyes of differing fury.
Cigarettes were flicked with unnecessary force. Their smoke trails touching and merging in ignored beauty, the way they couldn’t.
Both had their own pack. Different brands, separate lighters. Even a commonality provided a difference.
Rob had blown his months paycheck at a local bookies. That’s why the electric bill hadn’t been paid.
Candles burned steady, saved for the blackouts. Only; the ones everyone got hit with. She was worried the neighbours would think they were practicing dark arts, even went outside to see what it looked like, noting how every other window in sight effused that dependable yellow light her partner couldn’t provide, the grand act of needless drama.
“You’re an embarrassment,” she finally said, avoiding eye contact, scratching at her tights.
He sighed, like a dragon, a candle on the tables’ flame wavering, shadows distorting. “I’m bored. So unbelievably bored.”
She cocked her head, heavy weaponry firing from those mascara circled eyes, fingers tightening on the butt of the half smoked, a small crack in the paper appearing.
“I’ve done everything, and everything I haven’t done I’ve imagined…”
“You’re only thirty!” She had a way of shouting without raising her voice. But she understood on some level. A level she’d never admit. “I know you’re not bored of me.”
The words loitered heavy, like they had drugs to sell.
“Aren’t you going to shout? Tell me what a loser I am, how I’ve let myself down, and you – and, and – and on some level the world?” His eyes pierced the relative gloom from a tilted down head, cannons with unlimited ammunition, locking on hers, staring, asking for things he couldn’t.
“Don’t give me that look you son of a bitch. This heart’s thicker these days – besides, I don’t play the emotion game. Why don’t you tell me again, why we have candles instead of lights?” She stubbed one out, efficiently sparking another.
More sighs, eyes fixing on the grain of the wood kitchen table. “I had to help a friend out…”
“Yeah, yeah, jesus, spare the friend routine. Who was it last month?”
A warm beer that had gone largely unnoticed since being opened crinkled in his grip till insipid pale bubbly liquid rose into the top of the can. The cigarette was burning solo, an ash caterpillar, resting on the side plate, burnt out, through the brand name, down to the beef.
“And what freinds?” She needled further, misspelling even in speech. “Huh?” Sarcasm dripped off it.
Heart beating quick time. Muscles tensed. Eyes wide, bulging. His face flushed despite the cold.
“Fuuuuck you!” He stood up explosive, nearly tipping the table over, sending the beer sailing into the darkness beyond a doorway. “You! Youuuu!” he shouted, finger pointing. “You got me hooked you stupid bitch!”