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Signals

Unspoken languages

“Um.”

Kaitey's fingernails, brightly painted, rattled against her wine glass. She fidgeted and gazed away, feigning interest in the restaurant crowd. She looked back, studying Kyle, and searching frantically for the right words. Her eyes were wide, showing surprise and confusion.

Kyle, sitting across the corner of the table from her, felt like a chasm had just opened under his feet and, like Alice down the rabbit hole and with due relativistic impossibility, he paused now and again, to pick up some disquieting sentiment, study it carefully, and replace it on the shelf while the world pitched and rolled around him.

“Um?” His voice was a whispered echo. “I was hoping for a little more enthusiasm.”

His attempt at a joke was a Hindenburg in progress – bursting into flames on exiting his mouth and then crashing onto the table, already a burnt-out wreck.

Kaitey cleared her throat and the corners of her mouth twitched into a mockery of a smile. Her gaze flicked with whip-like rapidity to the salt cellar and snapped back to his face, to the small dish of thickly sliced, fresh-baked bread and back to his face.

“I'm not sure...,” she began, dreading the coming words.

“Yeah. No. I get that,” interrupted Kyle.

His torso went rigid and, crossing his arms, he leaned against the leather padding of the booth's backrest.

“I just thought...,” he initiated and then, impromptu, finished. “I guess I was wrong.”

Kyle's lips pressed into a thin line of disappointment. He studied the edge of the table – avoiding looking up to meet her gaze – although there was nothing of interest on the edge of the table.

Kaitey's hands retreated from the table and folded tightly together in her lap, restless and twisting. Her brow furrowed, creasing, and marring the beautiful contour of her face.

“I'm sorry,” ejected Kyle, his voice too loud. He continued, carefully modulating his timbre.

“I'm just really sorry. I didn't mean for it to end up like this.”

“I know,” followed Kaitey without a pause. “I guess we... just see things differently.”

She bit her lip and looked at him shyly.

“It's no one's fault,” she attempted. “Sometimes, it's just like that.”

Kyle felt his strength leave him and, suddenly, he wanted to sleep and forget what was happening. He looked at his own wine glass but, the idea of lifting it seemed, in the moment, a terrible burden.

“So,” he started, attempting to collect his shattered thoughts and ego, “you don't want to...?”

“No.” Kaitey shook her head vehemently. “I don't.”

It was her turn to cross her arms and this she did, brusquely, her forearms folding under her delicate bust and terminating further discussion on the topic. She turned her head away but continued to speak.

“I wanted something different.”

“I thought...”

“Did you?” Her answer was reproachful, embittered.

“OK,” he answered, finally – recognising his failure. “How about this one?”

Kaitey's eyes tilted in their sockets to follow the indication of Kyle's finger. The travel brochure indicated a 10 day safari in Jordan's 'Valley of the Moon'.

“Now, that's the man I'm going to marry. I knew you could do better than Cancun.”

“It's all inclusive,” Kyle wagered.

“Let's finish dinner and go back to the hotel,” Kaitey purred.

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