The Price of Love
The capacity of human beings to bore one another seems to be vastly greater than that of any other animal. - H. L. Mencken
She was boring. More importantly, she was boring him. She talked and talked and talked and… talked more. What about? Hell if he knew. His attention had wandered off and left him for the past half hour. Now all he heard was a constant noise, like a sort of buzzing that was sometimes punctuated by claws against a blackboard. Shhhhhz shhhhhhhhzzzzz breeeeeek shhhhhhzzz breeeeeek—that was all he heard, babbling and sudden heart attack-inducing laughs. His head was pounding, but he tried to ignore it. Breeeeeek. The laughs—they had to stop. Please. They made his head want to run off and join his lost attention.
He glanced out the windows. What a perfectly horrid day: gray and overcast, windy and cold, still wet from a drizzle that left and came back every few minutes. She didn't seem to mind. She probably didn't even notice. He leaned his head against the glass and sighed in relief. The cold glass felt good against his throbbing forehead. He let his eyes drift close…. A far away vision reached him, called to him. The sun came up and the plants grew over the city and—Breeeeek. He woke abruptly. Shhhhhzzzz. Oh no, she was talking to him. Worse, she was expecting him to talk to her. It took him a few minutes to refocus and understand what she was saying.
"What?" he asked.
"Urgh! Frank! Haven't you been paying attention? You fell asleep on me!" Nice voice.
"Sorry." He glanced down at his white knuckles. "My head hurt."
"Then take an aspirin or something!" She stared at him. "What should I order?"
"A chicken soup. I think I'm getting a cold."
She folded the menu and snapped her fingers. A polite but skittish waiter took their orders and left as quickly as possible without seeming rude. And then it started again. Shhhhhzzzz shhhhhhzzzzz breeeeek. Shhhhhhhzzz. His mind began to wander again…. Breeeeek!
"Frank! Where is the soup?"
"It should be here soon," he replied automatically.
That seemed to have sparked a new topic: complaints about the horrible service. More and more. Dear Lord, would she ever stop? On and on and on and on and on again. His mind became fuzzy, his attention wandered (yes, again), and he looked out the window. It had started raining. Again. The fountain was only a few meters away from here, the water dribbling down pathetically. People in dark, heavy clothing passed by on every side. He wondered why no one wore bright clothing on dreary days. Surely it would lighten the mood a bit.
Surely it would lighten the mood a bit. A bright green, almost lost amid all the gray, caught his eye. Right across from the restaurant, in a little shop on the other side of the street, was a beauty in bright green. He watched her as she went this way and that, apparently unaffected by the gloomy weather. Cheerful, bright, fast, young, quiet. Quiet.
A waiter came and set down their dishes, leaving at a trot. He had to chuckle quietly to himself. Poor waiter; it seemed everyone could tell what a charm his wife was. He payed no heed to his soup and instead looked at the little shop across the street. She was gone. He moved his head subtly, this way and that, until she came back into his sight. Pretty, young, lithe, bright, and with such an aura of peace. Shhhhhhzzzz shhhhhhzzzzz shhhhhhzzz breeeek breeeeeeek breeeek!
"Francis! Why aren't you listening to me?"
"I was trying to—Argh! Mouse! A mouse! There's a mouse in my soup!"
He was sure his eardrums would reproach him forever. If only he hadn't married that woman, they might not have been driven into committing suicide. The entire restaurant was in an uproar. Patrons everywhere screamed. Why were they screaming? It's not as if they found a mouse in their soup. It's not as if the mouse was alive and would jump out of the bowl and—oh.
Apparently the mouse was alive for it jumped out of the bowl and ran blindly around the restaurant. He couldn't help but to feel sorry for the poor creature. First it falls into boiling-hot soup; and then it gets chased by five waiters, panicked screams all around; and then—he'd rather not think about what happened then. The cook came out with steaming frying pan. The carpet would have to be replaced.
A half-hour later, after too many apologies from the staff and too many complaints from his wife, they were leaving the restaurant. She forced him to carry her expensive fur coat because she wasn't cold. She changed her mind a few seconds later, made him help her into the bulky thing, and then ordered him to bring out the umbrella though it was barely drizzling. She didn't care. She wanted him to bring out the umbrella.
He did and he crossed the street, holding the umbrella over her head. His heart jumped when he realized where they were; they were getting closer and closer to the little shop. That little shop with the beauty in green.
He trailed off as though hypnotized, dragging the umbrella behind him. He pressed his face against the window and looked in. There! He smiled. She looked up at him curiously, tilting her pretty head to one side. Her eyes were large and bright and round and the most beautiful shade of amber he had ever seen. Warm, quiet, peaceful, lovable. It was then that he knew. He pushed the door open and made his way to the front of the shop, not taking his eyes away from hers.
"Frank! What do you think you're doing? And why the hell are you staring at that iguana like that?"
He reached the front desk and asked, "How much?"
Thanks for reading!
A/N: Apologies for the quality. I had thirty minutes to write this due to a self-imposed challenge. I proofread and did minor editing but complete rewriting would be like cheating, wouldn't it? Also written for a challenge on the "Cafe FictionPress" forums.