Seraca I

She was making a right hash of it, the milk wasn’t frothy, the coffee had ran down the side of the mug. The boss was leaning on the counter, his chin wagging rhythmically, keeping time with the low drone of his voice while the frankly plain object of his affections giggled sycophantically. And still the girl persevered with the milk, each…
“…and you’re not even fucking listening again! This is exactly what I was talking about, you just aren’t ‘here’, you’re never even present anymore. I mean, that’s the least I could ask for and you can’t even do that, you can’t even be here.”
My thoughts had been interrupted, again. I glanced back to the defiant face in front of me, rounder than it had been three years ago (when had that started happening? It must have been pretty gradual, a gradual transformation from a waif to a walrus. ‘Curvy’ they called it in her magazines), her eyes were narrowed and her brow furrowed in a way which she must have imagined to be appropriate for conveying her disaffection but struck me as merely comical. I suppressed a smile. Poorly.
“What are you fucking laughing about? I’ve had it with you. I don’t want this, you hardly say a word and when you do it’s something sarky.”
“I choose my words carefully to suit the moment.”
Breaking my silence seemed to infuriate her further.
“You always have to be so contrary, is it hard being you? Is it hard? You were born with this great gift, this supposedly great mind and what do you do with it? You sit around idly and make others feel small when you’ve accomplished so little with your life. I used to like that about you, no, I used to tolerate that. I used to tell Sarah and mum, when they said things, that you were a genius and one day you’d do something great and then they would see what I saw in you. But now I think they’re right, you are a loser. If anything you’re worse than a loser, you’re worse than those Jeremy Kyle scum because you have the ability and potential to be so much more, you see that don’t you? Of course you see that, that’s the main problem, how fucking aware you are of your superiority, how you sit in quiet judgment, looking down imperiously at everyone else yet you’ve done nothing with your life. You have this gift and you piss on it and piss on all of us ‘normal’ people who would do anything to have your mind, you could study anywhere, teach anywhere, work anywhere and i’m sick of all your bullshit excuses. You’re a boy, you’re an idiotic boy and after all these years I thought you would’ve become a man, I’ve changed and maybe th…”
My concentration wavered, she had repeated herself several times now and I knew where the rant was going, some kind of ‘shape up or ship out’ nonsense. I wondered where that expression came from, a maritime phrase I imagined, one possibly born out of the days of empire, when we ruled the waves, or maybe it was another of those misleading sayings. Like the one about hell having no fury like a woman scorned, that was never in the bible, maybe shaping up and shipping out had nothing to do with naval maintenance.
The girl had finished ruining a cappuccino and was now idly wiping the table nearest to us. Her short brown hair and slightly-too-short-for-work skirt reminded me a little of Jade when I had first met her, that seemed more of an age ago than a period measurable in years. Her clothing was somewhere between playfully suggestive and awkwardly outgrown, which matched her lanky, slender frame. She continued cleaning, looking a cross between a newborn deer and a harlot.
“…as though you understood everything about me and that the rose symbolised that, was I wrong? I look back at things now and I realise that everything I had thought was symbolic was just something you chucked together, I applied meaning to them afterwards. I was in love with the You that I created in my mind, never really you. Do you agree?”
I was suddenly on the spot. I didn’t care. Sometimes people say that they don’t care in order to seem relaxed or somehow, by exhibiting apathy, a better person. I genuinely did not care, I had begun to view Jade as a minor irritant whose presence served no practical purpose, much like a laconic fly which lands on your cheek just as you are drifting off to sleep then buzzes away, inconsequentially, to a corner of the room only to flyby your ear the next time sleep approaches. I shrugged at Jade. She stood up quietly, adjusted the neck of her top, looked at me with something between pity and hatred, then walked past and out of the cafe door. My eyes followed her slightly larger frame out of the door before returning to the table. The specials menu, a small blackboard hung on a piece of stringy rope above the counter, featured “scons and butter”. I took each and every spelling mistake as a mild personal insult. The girl had finished her time wasting cleaning display and approached my table, grabbing at both my empty mug and Jade’s abandoned tea cup. Her green eyes radiated from her pretty, sharp face, flooding colour over her porcelain skin as her thin lips idly offered “another drink?” in a thick Norse accent. I held her gaze and smiled, she blushed a little.
“A cappuccino, sweetie”

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