“So?” I’d asked, “You have a sideways face. I couldn’t care if your face was upside down, or on the other way around, I would still like to buy you a coffee.”
“Thank you, I’ll need a straw.” she replied graciously.
“Yes, I understand.”
Returning to the table and taking my place in a chair opposite her, we chatted about the weather and a recent election result for the presidency of a fledgling democracy. With the conversation flowing, I began asking questions from an orderly list I’d compiled inside my head.
Question: Had she been born this way or was it due to an accident, later in life?
Answer: It’d happened when she was young.
Question: How old was she when she realised she was different from everyone else?
Answer: About 6 years of age.
Question: Had she discovered any advantages of her situation?
Answer: None she could be sure of.
Question: Was getting a good fitting hat, a problem?
Answer: Yes, headscarves were favoured.
Question: What was it like to kiss on an x and y axis?
Answer: Did I want to try?
“Do I want to try?” I couldn’t believe my luck, “Really?”
“Here,” she said, motioning with her hand, “move a little away from the table.”
I did as I was told and as the chair legs scraped across the wooden boards, we both screwed up our respective faces, wincing at the uncomfortable sound.
“That’s better.” she said, after positioning herself on my lap and sliding her arm around the back of my neck. I placed my hand on her knee to add stability, while my other arm travelled around her lower back and finished, resting on her hip.
“There, this is good.” I said, satisfied with the completion of the manoeuvre. “Right; down to business then.”
“Look, I know you said you wanted to try the kiss on the x and y axis, but to be honest, it’s better if we both pucker our lips slightly.” She puckered her lips slightly, to demonstrate.
Gazing into her right eye I smiled, before moving in closer while holding my breath. As I did this, an involuntary reflex caused my head to tilt in an indecisive manner, first one way and then sharply to the opposite side. I could see her smooth, glistening lips puckering up, drawing me onwards to my goal.
Yet somehow, the intended objective was derailed as my mouth crash-landed onto the tip of her nose, slipping across her nostrils. In a vain attempt to correct the trajectory, I jerked my head sharply away to the left and plunged forward again. This time, with eyes closed, my lips landed squarely on her medial cleft. Much to my relief and exercising outstanding deftness, she grasped hold of my chin between her thumb and index finger, giving it a gentle wiggle, until both my top and bottom lip finally slid over hers and suction took over.
Taking breaths between kissing, she whispered to me asking “What do you think, are you enjoying yourself?”
“Of course I am,” I replied, “You’re out of this world.”
Shortly after this, I lost consciousness, feeling the strength dissolving away from my bones as she held my head between her hands and with one swift movement, rested me gently onto the table top.
Imagery of this incredible woman, filled the next few hours of a delirious dream. As seated, North African musicians produced a rhythmic, looping and hypnotic drone, her body moved swirling through the flickering haze of leaping flames. In the pungently perfumed air all around her, glowing embers floating up from the campfire danced with flying insects drifting across the twilight sky. Finally, the sound and vision melded together into a blur and I found myself awake, once more.
While establishing focus, I was able to make out her form, standing proudly in front of me, her chest pushed out and displaying a broad smile across her face. Why hadn’t I noticed what a gorgeously engaging smile she had? What’s more, her eyes sparkled with a pure sense of joy and excitement. Why hadn’t I noticed this before? I kept asking myself. As my sight cleared it became blindingly obvious, she had the most perfectly balanced facial proportions I had ever come across.
Then, raising both hands to rub my eyes, I felt instead the knuckles simultaneously twisting into the jowl of cheek and sleek widow’s peak where hairline meets forehead. In response, gripped by cold fear and a terrifying sense of fright, I spread out my hands across my face, fingers frantically searching the seemingly unfamiliar bone structure and order of my features.
“W-w-what, have you done to me?” I stammered.
“Well, it is rather difficult to explain,” she replied, admiring her handiwork, “I guess you could call it a complicated kind of swap. You have what I had and I have what you had. You’ll be fine with it, I could tell when we met.” She gave me a reassuring wink and continued, “I have been waiting a long time, for the right person to come along.”
After a short pause, she turned to leave the cafe, taking one last sideways glance at me, and then she was gone.
(photo credit: Mahyar Tehrani)