We all long for forbidden hungers.
By Manasha Fernando
She was going to be late. Again. Brow furrowed, arms crossed and fingers tapping impatiently she inclined her head slightly to the right to glimpse past the clustering crowd, to the pedestrian light on the other side. It was still a dull red. She checked her watch. She had five minutes to get down to the café or else she was going to be late for her meeting with Amelia. She ignored the ambient noise of cars and chatting people beside her to focus on the thoughts in her head. Amelia. Soft, sweet and attractive. Her heart fluttered like a plastic bag in the wind…was she sure she wanted to do this? Before, she could answer her own question, she was pulled by the tidal wave of people as the red flickered to a green.
She plunged past the wall of bodies, gripping her handbag tightly as she made her way across the street. Once she reached the other side, she had only a moment to breathe, before checking her watch: three minutes! The crowd dispersed into various shops, as she hurried on, side stepping and swerving past business men and women who were briskly striding from the opposite direction, without a care for where anyone else walked. At last, she turned on to a well-known street and was greeted with mouth-watering scents of various cuisine- Thai, French, and Japanese -her stomach let out a groan of anguish. Remembering that she had only eaten a soggy salad five hours before, she stopped and stared wistfully inside one of the well-lit interiors. She would have loved to grab the half priced food from the counter as shops began to close or to take a seat at one of the stylish restaurants that were just opening. In fact, she was just about to open the door and invite herself inside before she remembered her objective. ‘Don’t you dare!’ she scolded herself as she turned away from fine establishment. She may be a foodie but Amelia was worth more than any of the food here. How long was she distracted? Checking her watch she found she had less than one minute before the café closed.
As she rushed down the street, perhaps to distract herself from food, she found her thoughts returning to the outing with her friends from the night before. It was a general get-together with some girlfriends as they caught up with each other’s lives. Maya had met a cute guy for a night out, Jodie had gotten married to Joe and Elsie was expecting a baby. When the focus had turned to her, her tongue lightened with alcohol, she blurted out her thoughts on how she had discovered a new café -and her meeting with Amelia. ‘You have to stop!’ her friends, laughed. ‘You’ll end up gaining more weight.’ She remembered smiling sheepishly at their comments until Josie piped up thoughtfully, ‘Amelia? That’s a weird name.’ Unnaturally, she was on the defence for her precious Amelia, as she questioned why. Josie hesitated before responding gently, ‘Well…it’s a girl’s name, isn’t it?’ Suddenly, she felt herself burning under the scrutiny of everyone in the room. A girl’s name…was it really that strange?
But she avoided the answer yet again, as she turned down the side street and reached her destination. A cute café, decorated with sassy signs and plants, it was a small treasure trove known to a select few. Andrew, the owner, was just about to turn the closing sign, before he caught sight of her sprinting towards him. ‘Amelia?’ he inquired, smiling down at her as she gasped for breath. Unable to speak, and cheeks flushed red with embarrassment, she nodded gratefully. His hazel eyes twinkled, as he disappeared into the kitchen.
As she recovered her composure, reality kicked in. Oh mystical unicorns, deity of all food, why was she here? She wasn’t prepared at all. She glanced at her reflection. Brown hair was strewn upwards from her recent exercise and her matching eyes appeared overcast. And was she really gaining weight? Maybe she should just go back and catch a bus back home, to enjoy a tasteless dinner by herself. But before she could make a move, Andrew appeared from the kitchen wearing a lopsided grin, excited like a puppy. She stood there helplessly, paralyzed by his enthusiasm. ‘Here’s Amelia!’ He called out as he placed the chocolate croissant, coated generously with powdered sugar, with a helping of strawberries and banana’s drizzled with melted dark chocolate on the side. A rush of emotions welled up inside of her…love? She picked up a spoon. Screw it. Who cared if she gained weight? She had travelled all this way to meet Amelia.