High Hopes

“I’m guessing you must be Melvin! Hi, I’m Summer.” Confidence oozed out deliciously from the blue-haired young woman, as she crossed the courtyard in several long strides. Sat next to the marble fountain, Melvin looked up from the patch of ground he’d been staring at, as if brought out of a daze.
“Yes! Hi there, Summer I presume?”
“Isn’t the villa just beautiful?” Summer spun around three hundred and sixty degrees with her face turned up towards the sun. “As a student, I used to help with picking grapes in the vineyard, during college break.”
“Well, you know I’ve lived in the area for five years, not more than twenty kilometres away and I had no, idea, such a place existed.” Melvin stood up and looked around, surveying the architecture, “I must say, it’s impressive.”
“Yes, yes it is.” Summer watched Melvin shuffle left and right, his hand horizontal on his brow to shade his eyes against the bright sunshine. She felt her enthusiasm drain away. She trusted her gut instinct, at least during an occurrence like today, feeling it dominate her head and heart so decisively. “Look, lets get a coffee,” she suggested, “there’s a kiosk over there with tables and chairs set up nearby.”
They walked together in silence, like an old couple with nothing left to say to each other. Melvin sunk his hands deep into his trouser pockets, playing with his keys and some loose change, while Summer compiled a list of reasons in her mind.
“Let me get them, what will you have?” Melvin said, pulling out his wallet from a back pocket.
“No,” Summer replied, “I’ll get them, what would you like?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure.”
“Okay, well if you insist,” Melvin glanced at the blackboard menu, “flat white then, thank you.”
“Flat white?”
“Yes please, two sugars.”
“There’s sugar on the table, in the bowls, slim packets of sugar.”
“Oh, yes, so there is.”

The young man serving at the kiosk, Summer thought he looked French. From southern France, she decided, observing the lustre of his thick, black, wavy hair, a permanent five o’clock shadow and his relaxed manner. Dressed in a white shirt, black waistcoat and black jeans, a bottle green coloured apron tied around his waist; he smiled casually at Summer as she approached. The sunlight sparkled, in his eyes and in his teeth.
“If only … ” Summer said, under her breath.

“So,” Melvin stirred his drink, “how long have you been on the app for?”
“Pardon-me?” Summer didn’t like the question, it felt intrusive. How could he imagine it was any of his business?
“I’ve been on it for two years.” Melvin said, pulling a glum, defeated expression.
“Oh, right, any luck?” Summer sipped at her Earl-Grey tea, then added a little extra milk.
“Once.” Melvin sucked the teaspoon clean, “It lasted about two weeks, although, we only met each other once over that period.”
“Oh,” Summer wondered how to respond, “sorry about that.”
“Nah, it’s alright, we weren’t suited to each other.” Melvin unfolded a paper serviette, taken from a wooden pot on the table and flattened it out across his lap. “There was no chemistry between us, we were on a different waveband, you know?”
“Did you want something to eat?” Summer asked, “I think they have biscuits, muffins or fruit.”
“Oh, no, thanks, I’m fine.” Melvin refolded the serviette and placed it back on the table next to his coffee.
“Look, Melvin,” Summer sat upright in the wrought iron chair, “I’ve got to say, this isn’t going to work.”
Melvin lifted the cup from the saucer, then placed it down again, without having taken a sip. “How did you reach that conclusion?”
“Well, I’m going to be honest with you, okay?”
“Yes, no, that’s fine,” Melvin said, “I would want you to be honest. Honesty is important, just tell me how it is.”

No, Summer did not want to be there, about to say what she was about to say. However, life had taught her to recognise red flags, never ignore them and to act upon them accordingly. To do so, she’d found saved an awful lot of time and bother. Luckily, it was still fairly early in the morning and there weren’t too many visitors around, at least not within ear shot.
“You look quite a bit older in real life Melvin, just how old are your profile photos?”
“Mhm … ” Melvin stroked his chin thoughtfully, “let me think. They might be, two years old?”
“Really? Are you sure?”
“I don’t know,” Melvin cleared his throat and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt, “years pass so quickly, don’t you think? Maybe they are four years old?”
“Right.” Even with the estimate doubled, Summer remained unconvinced. “Did you notice, on my profile, I made a point about saying I am one metre eighty-three centimetres tall?”
Melvin’s eye’s widened and he shook his head, while Summer retrieved her phone, opened the app and located her own profile. “See, there, the first line.”
Melvin leant forward, his eyes squinting. “Oh yes, right, one eighty three, okay.”
“How tall are you, exactly?”
“Well, I’m not sure.”
“You’re not sure?” Her words were weighted with a disbelieving stare.
“About five foot six?”
“In Cuban heels, you mean?” Summer drew in her breath, “Okay, here is the second line of my profile. Seeks tall, dark, handsome guy, with funny sense of humour.” Summer looked across to Melvin disdainfully, “Well, I guess you’ve got that last one.” Melvin smirked in acknowledgment, while Summer mumbled to herself, “Must remember to change the wording there.”
She tapped a few times on the screen of her phone. “I notice from your profile, I can’t tell that you are a ging-er, you’re using a filter with your photos. Oh, and this one, is in black and white!” Summer sighed, rested her chin in the palm of her hand, her elbow planted onto the table top.

A shiny, oil-green coloured fly, buzzed as it navigated a graceful spiral pattern in the still air between them. Together, they watched as the insect hovered and then gently landed onto Melvin’s refolded serviette. With a leg bent at the knee, they observed as it selected an individual granule of sugar and began to feed.

©Brinkinfield 2020 All Rights Reserved
Part of the Ekphrasis Project (story inspired by a collage)

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