Uncommon., with a full stop, is a lovely café at the Windsor end of Chapel Street. Its white walls sharply contrast the succulent greenery hanging from the ceilings. Click to read the short story by set in Melbourne…
“I think they’ll really like you,” said Mark as he pulled one of the chairs at the four-seater table out for June. She took a seat and allowed him to push it back in for her. The two were sitting in Uncommon. waiting for Mark’s parent’s to arrive. The café was loud and full of commotion. They had to wait to be seated.
June had chosen the café as Mark had once told her that his mum liked to garden and Uncommon. was a luscious haven of greenery, with plants hanging from the ceilings and perched on all available tables and counters.
“You think so?” she asked once he’d sat down across from her. June was now worried that the café was too noisy; perhaps Mark’s parents preferred a more peaceful setting.
“They’ll love you!” Mark said smiling, “I love you, so they’ll love you.” He was wearing a dark green pullover with a grey collar poking out. June noticed that for once his hair was combed into place.
“I know, I guess I’m just so nervous! I’ve only ever seen their faces staring back from your iPad screen.”
“They’ll love you,” Mark insisted and touched her hand to reassure her.
The touch on her hand brought back memories of the previous night. That hand, touching hers. That finger moving its way from her brightly coloured nails down her middle phalange and proximal phalange feeling the small creases beneath her skin, stopping at her knuckle and moving in circular motions around it, gently finding its way to the small space between her fingers and feeling the warm tickling sensation as it traced her palm, her hair sticking up and her fight or flight response kicking in. It hadn’t been the usual touch, it was gentle; the way one would touch a wilted rose to prevent the petals from falling off.
“I hope they’re not lost,” said Mark looking at his phone, “I better give them a call.”
That finger tracing down her wrists, pausing to feel her pulse going faster than usual. That hand stroking the skin along her forearm and up her shoulder, finding her collarbones, moving from one to the other before taking hold oh her chin.
“Okay, they’re on their way,” said Mark putting his phone down onto the table, “they accidently got off at Prahran instead of Windsor.”
His words interrupted last night’s memories, inappropriate before meeting his parents.
“Sorry babe,” said June, “I was off somewhere.”
“Is it your anatomy exam?” asked Mark concerned.
“My exam?” asked June.
“Yeah, your notes are all over the house, “ he said, “I’ve been learning all about the Ulna and Radius and Phalanges from that poster stuck to the glass plane in the shower.”
“Oh yeah, sorry I’ve turned our place into Gray’s Anatomy,” she said and looked into his face. He definitely had made an effort today. He was neatly shaven.
“No don’t be silly, I like that you’re studying so much,” he said, “means I’ll get to be a househusband when you start earning the big bucks.”
“Is that why you’re supporting me now?” she asked smiling.
“Yeah,” he said, “as soon as you’re a doctor I’m quitting my job for a life of leisure.” He laughed until his face settled on a smile.
Those lips gently touching the side of her neck, breathing on her, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Those lips moving up towards her ears whispering words that made her quiver. Still holding onto her chin so she could not move away. Imprisoned. That nose brushing up against her face, taking in the warm soft scents that escaped her pores.
“June, you really are nervous,” said Mark squeezing her hand, “you’re shaking a little. You really don’t have to worry about my parents, they’re really relaxed and so excited to meet you.”
June looked towards his face again. Why could she not stop thinking about it? What if his parents show up and all she can think about is the tangled scene between the sheets. The more she tried not to think about it the more the scenes flashed back in her mind. What if she blurted something out when Mark’s dad asked her a question, a Freudian slip of sorts, “I’ll be back in a sex,” when she stands up to pay. She couldn’t get the fucking hands and fucking lips out of her mind. She tried to distract herself by counting the pot plants hanging from the ceiling and squeezing Mark’s hand to reassure him that she was fine.
Mark’s parents arrived 15 minutes late. Mark got up to greet them when he spotted them in the doorway under the Uncommon. sign. Gerome, Mark’s dad was a tall man with a tuff of white hair on his head, he was thin and looked like he’d spent most of his life in a library hunched over a book about the breeding habits of butterflies. His wife Angela, Mark’s mother, was thin like her husband but a good head shorter than him. She wore a magenta dress and yellow trench coat. Something about the way she held herself, the quick movements of her limbs and the uprightness of her posture, made June quickly judge that that she was a woman of many judgements.
“Mum, dad, this is June,” said Mark presenting June once he’d ushered his parents over to the table. June stood up, but Angela shooed her back into her place.
“No sit, sit my dear,” she said in the English accent that Mark had almost completely lost.
Angela continued, “we know you’re busy studying for an exam so you need to save your energy, plenty of times to hug in future.”
Angela and Gerome both sat down.
“It’s lovely to finally meet you,” said Gerome in a deep but quiet tone. He looked at her fondly and patted Angela’s leg, “she looks lovely doesn’t she?”
June immediately liked him. Mark came to sit next to her and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. She took hold of his hand beneath the table.
“Should we order?” he asked taking a look at the menu. The four ordered coffee, presented to them on neat silver platters. June drank her coffee and slowly started to loosen her grip on Mark’s hand. She felt her body relax.
Mark’s parents looked at her warmly as they described their flight over, 10 hours in Singapore had been a drag but they bought them both some items duty free. Gerome asked June about her studies and Angela commented on the lovely shade of nail polish she was wearing. Gerome and Angela, they were the same faces that stared back at her on Skype. The ones that had told her to wear a jumper when she hurried out of the apartment when Skyping with Mark, the ones that gave her recipes and always asked about her parents. The ones she pictured as her children’s grandparents. There they were, 3 dimensional and unpixelated. Her future in-laws. June released Mark’s hand completely and told Gerome about the posters and study notes left around their apartment, and told Angela that the nail polish was OPI.
Just before they ordered food, June went to the bathroom, “I’ll be back in a sec.”
On her way she passed a large picture of a boy on his phone.
In the bathroom she checked her phone. She had one new message from Claudia, “I really enjoyed last night.”
– The End –