Author’s note: In preparation for NaNoWriMo 2009, someone put up daily prompts on one of the forums. I did them in the spirit of warm-ups, but some of them turned into stories. Here is one such.
Prompt: It was too deliciously spicy to resist.
He was not my type at all: skinny and blond, with very pale eyes, a color you’d call grey if it were anything at all, no discernible tilt to blue or green. I find blue eyes strange enough, but this no-colored shade, closer to water than anything else, was unnerving. And they missed, by only a shade, being as light as his skin—which would have taken some doing, given how pale that was. The default human being has black hair, brown eyes, and medium-brown skin. And she’s female.
I can’t look at blonds (or blondes) without thinking, “Recessive trait,” without thinking, “Genetic drift,” without meditating on the eons out of the bosom of mother Africa, under dark skies and darker winters, that leached the color out of those eyes and hair and skin. Like seeing a ghost, rather. And this one was skinny, too, so I could see the bones moving in his hands as he rearranged the food on his plate. I’ve met anorexic girls more often than boys, but this might be what I’m seeing: something listless in the motions. I see the tiny bones in his wrist rolling against each other as he delicately manipulates the chopsticks.
But I’m much too old to find broody and troubled particularly attractive. I see it for what it is: trouble. I stared, fascinated, at the moving tendons in the back of his hands, thinking about the beautiful articulation of the joints of the hand. The human hand is an engineering marvel, come to think of it, and watching his hands was watching it stripped to its Platonic essence. Pale, clear, clean of line—like the black and white photographs in a good technical manual.
The food, on the other hand, glowed on the plate with all the life and energy he didn’t have: sweet potato in curry sauce, with little curls of cilantro on top. A Thai curry, golden spices dissolved in coconut milk. There was more, in the waxed white box with its little metal handle, but he wasn’t anywhere near touching that.
He saw me watching him, and looked up. Smiled a very odd smile, that sat strangely in his face—all angles and cheekbones, pure structure—the way that it suggested a dimpled cherub, using flesh he didn’t have. Very delicately he took the chopsticks off the napkin in front of me, all the while looking at me with those no-colored eyes, wrapped his elegantly articulated fingers around them as if they were married, pinched a soft orange morsel off the plate with the enameled tips, twisted to wrap it in sauce, and extended it to me, so that it came within a breath of touching my lips.
“I know you like to watch,” he said, “but you really should try some.”
It was too deliciously spicy to resist.
(Process information: 10/17/2009 12:16 PM to 12:31 PM)