Even after six years of meeting in public places, I always see the boobs first.
I am always on time, always waiting, and she arrives late, unhurried. She walks into the café and stands in the largest clear spot, waiting for me to find her. Her head is down, black curls bobbing round her eyes. Her breasts jut out in front of her, and she appears not to be looking at them, but perhaps listening to them, waiting for counsel. I can stand and look at her as long as I like, and she will not pick me out of the crowd. Not until I wave.
She is short, and carries her head a little tipped down, so that when she raises it to peer around it is an event. She moves easily in jeans and a tight shirt, a tight sweater, a tight jacket, gliding just behind the mightiness of her boobs. She has no waist at all, being slim-hipped and thick through the torso, but she may not see this much, being always closest to the hard, unmoving package of her breasts. She is secure there, and she is always there.
Her face is round, and a little flat. The lips are full, and the nose a bit bulbous, but pressed back into her face so that the nostrils are flared to the sides. This might be both beautiful and expected, if paired with coffee-colored skin, but in my Colombian friend the Mestizo seems unmixed. She is a pale white girl with a half-african face, which makes the fullness hard to look at, and drives you back to easier features. At least, her skin is pale, and apt to burn, and sets a high contrast to her crayon-brown eyes. When she speaks of finding a job which will bring her back to her own culture, she speaks of Colombia, Argentina, Spain.
She sees me, and smiles, unapologetic, walking to join me at the head of the line. She is eager to talk, and wants to launch into an account of her emotional state before choosing her lunch. She uses my name in almost every sentence, and I have to draw her attention to the line we are delaying. She really doesn’t care about lunch, but is scrupulous in accounting and never owes me, not even for a few days.
Every sentence now comes with upturned eyes. She waits for me to answer, and I do, struggling to be honest but not hurtful. She makes appeals, brushing the curls back off her high, round forehead, as if she could charm me into understanding her. She hangs on my responses, but never reacts to them. There is no show of relief or satisfaction or dismay. The pleading look just fades back to blank while she formulates another question. She wants to be answered, but betrays no opinion about what was said. It only matters that I listen.
Leslie Ingham is a founding member of the Portuguese Artists Colony. She is currently at work on a novel.
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