The Right Words To Say Are Never Said
“She’s not allowed to be in my fingers.”
I blow heat into my cupped fingers. The fluorescent light creates a slight humming sound I swear I can only hear. I bounce my foot against the paved street. My teeth gnaw into my bottom lip. The smartphone in my back pocket is brandished from its hiding spot like a weapon. I don’t know what I’m looking for, but it’s used as a shield of protection.
The cold crawls within the tiny openings of my clothing. I wear something conservative. The V-neck sweater only digs down to expose a little of my throat. He won’t know that I changed my clothes about four times before saying fuck it.
A hand touches my shoulder. I automatically move to defend myself. My feet jump like a cat landing on its feet from a high place. I position my hands in front of me. There’s a snarl hidden on my lips at the intrusion into my thoughts.
Barry looks at me with that infuriating grin. He’s dressed up, impeccably handsome and well put together. He has on a button down shirt covered by a wool jacket. I’m envious of the warmth he’s feeling versus my leather jacket. I’m sure I look disheveled without giving a damn.
Barry comes toward me. He wraps his arms around my slightly smaller form. His embrace is warm, tight, one of the most perfect hugs I’ve felt. There’s this scent to his clothes. Something that has this inherent, deep manliness about it.
I huff against his ear and give him a half-assed hug in return. It’s something brief my family taught me to do it. I don’t want to give myself into our hugs yet.
“You scared me, you dipshit.”
I say as we part from each other. Just so he gets the point I shove him lightly in the chest. Barry takes it with a slight whoosh noise. He makes a motion for me to step inside. The heat of the restaurant surrounds me. It’s like a wet blanket trying to suffocate me.
“Obviously, it was worth it though. How are you, Mel? Why were you standing in the cold?”
“I hate waiting inside if I’m gonna eat and I’m meeting someone. The passing around, watching me, just puts me on edge.”
He only chuckles at my comment. We stand in line waiting to get a table. They cycle through the different people at a quickened pace. I don’t know how to start small talk. My hands fidget with pulling at my torn cuticles. They ask us how many will be at our table and Barry answers them.
We move through the indoor maze of tables and chairs. I always have this ability to bump into things randomly. My head is kept down to avoid their imploring gazes of my clumsiness.
Barry pulls out my chair for me. I eyeball him and he just smiles. My head nods briefly and I take a seat. We look at each other in a sort of stalemate.
“I like bars better. Restaurants are so formal. They assume things.”
“I know, but something about a meal and sharing it with someone adds another dimension. Don’t you think?”
I pull a piece of bread that the waiter sets down on our table. I can see that the man is aware our meeting is a discussion more than a meal. He slinks back to the bar area and keeps an eye on us.
“So, you can study me.”
“You study me too, don’t play. How are things?”
I know when he asks me that question he really wants to know. He wants to know my past, present, what the future may be. Barry’s genuineness comes out in his tone. In the way his brown eyes soften looking at me. I feel like a piece of my armor has been removed by his blatant curiosity in my life.
“It’s… going… Well? I just know it’s gonna blow up like a stack of dynamite. It’s eventual, instinctive, just gotta be prepared for the pyrotechnics,” I mumble the last part.
The piece of bread is shoved abruptly in my mouth. It has that flavor of freshly baked bread. It’s like I can numb what I’m feeling right now through chewing.
Barry shakes his head at my words. We both ignore our menus. He engages me in this intense eye contact. Like he can uncover all my hidden depths I keep from everyone.
“You and your bluntness, Mel. I can’t even. Why would it blow up?”
I decide to change the subject. Barry is always so focused on me. It’s like he’s avoiding his own scars and wounds that he covers so well. The waiter drops off water and vanishes yet again. I spin the straw in my drink and stare at him directly in the face.
“Everything does. Did you ever contact the fierce woman you loved? Did you let her slip through your fingers?”
“She’s not allowed to be in my fingers,” Barry responds.
There’s pain in his voice. I feel like I inadvertently injured him without meaning to. The waiter finally interrupts our discussion. He asks what we might want to order. I realize the menu is helplessly sitting there. My hands grip the laminated edges.
The funny thing is I am only acting like I’m reading it. I decided what I’d eat a few days ago when he suggested this place. I researched and studied it deciding what I’d want so I’d have my mind made up.
I decide the simplest damn thing on the menu. A burger, just meat and cheese without anything pretentious. The waiter takes our menus with a barely seen smirk. Barry and I fall into a quiet state after he disappears.
“I’m sorry, but I’m not. If she’s fierce. If she’s that other edge of a puzzle that fits yours… get it. It’s not something to be let go.”
Barry’s eyes soften. I could see that his guards went up at my intrusion into his life. He’s the calmness to my high intensity fire that I have. I’m the candle on our table.
That tiny tea light that becomes too oxygenated and lashes out into the air. I run a hand over the flickering light. The heat threatens to burn my skin. I feel numb to it and hover closer to the light. He shakes his head at my antics. I hover just a moment longer because I can.
He’s the cool water perspiring against the warmth of the restaurants heat. Something that is hard to rattle.
“There’s so many pieces out there. What makes you hold onto your complicated piece so hard?”
He’s back into me and my situation. I purse my lips. My eyes narrow and I take a deep breath in. Barry always has a point that I can see but I don’t want to.
“There’s many pieces. Endless. Countless. They fit in special ways. Sometimes with that fit, you fool yourself that it might feel right. But there’s only one him.”
Barry takes a deep breath in. There’s this beautiful smile on his face. He strokes his beard and gives me a slight nod.
“He’s a very special fit then.”
“Yes, you could say that.”
I say with a sigh. Barry and I fall into a calmer, contemplative silence. I don’t know what else to say. He doesn’t seem to mind that I can’t find the words right now.