We dine alone

I present here a rather strange short story titled We Dine Alone I scribbled out on my way back from Cornwall. It's one of two I wrote while down there, although I can't find the paper I wrote the other on at the moment. When I do, I'll post it here.

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We dine alone, facing each other, on opposite sides of the large dining room table. It’s not comically long, but it accommodates the salle-à-manger perfectly. My cutlery moving across the china almost echoes in the large room. It’s a fine room for entertaining, with a large fireplace and armchairs behind for the cigarettes and coffee afterwards. Above the mantelpiece are hung hunting trophies my father and grandfather caught. It is a fine room for company. But tonight, I dine with you alone. I converse, but you don’t make a sound. You stay perfectly still, watching me eat.

I like it when you watch me eat.

There is momentary silence as I take some seconds to chew my food. The meat’s started to get rubbery, and won’t keep another day. And to think all the effort I go to keep it fresh. I wipe my mouth and, looking down, consider I should probably buy some more napkins soon. I seem to be going through them like mad.

“What do you think?” I say to you, breaking the silence that filled the room so thickly. “Then again, I can’t see any way of keeping this fresher for more than three days. This really is the limit.”

I, for a second, swear I hear you say something. Nothing perceptible, and certainly not words, but something definitely. A squeal, or something. But your mouth hasn’t moved, and why should it.

I take one last mouthful, spend more effort chewing than I would have cared, and move my plate to the side a bit, leaning my elbows on the table so I can rest my chin on my hands. I watch you watch me and my smile drops a bit. I realise it’s a shame; I like when you watch me eat, and have for a few days now.

But old is old, despite what you do to try to make it otherwise. I find my dessert fork, and make my way to the drinks cabinet, where I take out a bottle of sherry, of which I pour into the bottom of a small china bowl.

“Dessert?” I ask you, although it wasn’t really much of a question. Again, I swear I hear something, but it really is impossible.

I love to save the eyes till last.

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