#229 Other Side

by Esthel Larsson

“See? That's what I hate.” Dave pointed with his fork at the summer terrace's epicenter of enthusiasm: a corner table whose occupants' vivid conversation rotated around coffee, fruit, and human-shaped robots. “Half my age, no manners, dining on glorified mac 'n' cheese, yet acting like the world is theirs to run. Intimate familiarity with the cheapest wine on the menu is a go-ahead to deflate the ego, wouldn't you agree. . ? Jay!”

“Sorry, I tuned out.” Jay smiled good-naturedly. “Negative space is full of decidedly positive revelations. That butterfly looks like the faces of two people sharing a kiss.”

Dave scanned the surroundings. “What butterfly?”

“It was tanning on the pepper grinder five seconds ago. You were saying. . .?”

“World domination. And the wine.”

“Right.” Jay took a sip, squinted with pleasure. “Fabulous. Italians do magic things with grapes. Even a simple vino di casa is heaven for the palate.”

Dave rolled his eyes. “Your verbal middle fingers are becoming sublime.”

The waitress brought gelato for one, overpriced sugary milk for the other. Jay scribbled “Grazie!” on the receipt; Dave rose to his feet with a rueful sigh.

“Need help?”

“No! This wheelchair is super-easy, I saw a guy do tricks in a half-pipe in one like this, can you believe it? I'm going to try it, too.”

They proceeded down the street, chatting. Sunshine, smashed to smithereens on contact with the misty glass shielding the prudent from the unpredictable, filled the air in the vulnerable wilderness with colorful whirls of excitement.

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