He took a long draught on his pint and set the glass back between them. A creamy white moustache burnished his smile. She pointedly dabbed at the corners of her mouth with a tissue and, with seeming reluctance, he wiped his face clean on the back of his sleeve.
“Spoil sport,” he said. “And, by the way, you’ve still got a smudge of chocolate on your cheek.”
“What ? Really ? Why didn’t you tell me earlier ? I ate that ages ago.” She rummaged in her bag for a vanity mirror, gave up, and turned her phone camera on herself. “Where is it then ?”
He grinned. “Just kidding. You look kinda cute when you get cross though so…”. He flinched as a scrunched up tissue flew across the table. It bounced neatly off his nose and landed in his pint. “Hey ! Now the gloves are off. That’s Ireland’s finest 5% stout you’re spoiling now. They’ve not been making this since 1759 so you could pep up its flavour with an old bit of paper.”
“Why’d you do that ?” she said, leaning forwards. “Why’d you have to know everything. It’s all facts. It’s got this percentage of alcohol and it was made in this brewery and this many pints have been drunk since the dawn of time.”
“I like facts,” he replied.
“But they don’t tell me anything interesting about you,” she said. “I think you hide behind all those facts. Tell me how you feel about your beloved Guinness ? How does it make you feel ?”
“Very funny.” She smiled despite herself. “It’s too bitter for me.”
“Me or the Guinness, Dr. Freud ?”
“Oh wouldn’t you like to know ? Anyway, as you should know, I prefer a nice slab of chocolate. Just letting it melt in my mouth, closing my eyes and drifting away. All warm and…”
“Steady. Is this going to get all ‘When Harry Met Sally’ ?”
“I’ll have what she’s having ? Ha, don’t worry. Besides you’ve seen me fake it often enough by now my dear…” She gasped theatrically and clapped both hands hard down on the table. The Guinness sodden tissue was returned at speed, catching her on the ear but she was laughing too much to notice. It was his turn to smile despite himself.
“It’s too sweet for me.”
“Me or the choc…”
“Both,” he interrupted.
“Ah come on. Admit it, we’re good for each other. Bitter and sweet. Facts and dreams. Pragmatism and idealism. All that stuff. Ying and yang.” She held out her hands across the table, palms up.
“Rough and smooth,” he added sliding his hands into hers.
“Only if I’m smooth,” she said. “I am smooth, right ?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know ?” he smiled. “Listen, I don’t know why we work. There’s no facts to it. But I guess that’s okay. I like your…”
“…wild and romantic flights of fancy ?”
“Your ideas. Your fizz. Your spark,” he finished. “Okay, okay, and, if you must, your wild and romantic flights of fancy.”
“You see ? Guinness and chocolate. Perfect together,” she declared. “Keep telling me the facts though. I like them really. They give those flights of fancy somewhere to take off from.”
“You just come up with that ?”
“It was a bit much, wasn’t it ? Bit cheesy ?”
“A bit. Come on we’ll be late.” They finished up their drinks and hurried out into the cold.
This is story 25 in a series of 42 to raise money and awareness for the mental health charity Mind. My fundraising page is here and all donations, however small, are really welcome: http://www.justgiving.com/42shorts
This one came from an unlikely source. Challenged with baking something that had a personal story attached to it for a work event I (with quite a lot of help) settled on a Guinness and chocolate cake. And then I took the story part literally as I’m much better at writing stories than baking cakes. Hopefully they will like one of them.