A sudden snap hiss of sulfur and it appears, a beckoning beacon of light between us. The waiter's hands are delicate - he cannot be more than sixteen - and fluid, the match sliding into the glass, the flame dividing itself into the wick. Flickering shadows flee your face, your lips dancing, sure voice ordering. I slowly stumble over my request, heat hitting my cheeks as the sound of the waiter's tapping foot reaches my ears. My leaden tongue lies in a desert, you smiling gently as sand falls from my lips.
Talk about generalities, discovering the inevitable similarities, glossing over the inevitable differences, the flame dancing back and forth, watching us, a spectator at a tennis match. Forks fiddle with food, trading worried banalities and routine reassurances.
The air chills, the sun a thin red smear on the horizon, uneaten food cooling, congealing between us. Though I have eaten, my stomach growls at an emptiness inside. Something undefinable keeps my nerves thrumming, the feeling of a puzzle piece that won't quite fit.
You offer to help with the bill, but I pay. As we rise, gathering our coats, you bend over and blow out the frolicking candle with a gentle breath.
Then I realize the flame still burned.
The final piece of the jigsaw puzzle snaps into place.
Each glances into the other's eyes and sees eternity.
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