He smiled in the way a child would; a mixture of bashfulness and wanting. Sukey brushed back a feather of hair and poured him another drink. Always two drinks. Never a visit longer than an hour.
Her eyes glanced the clock. The hour was nearly over.
She moved across to some other customers, gathering their food order, smiling, making jokes. His gaze was still on her. It didn’t bother her. He was a quiet sort.
When his drink emptied, she moved to take the cup but he gripped it a little tighter, not unpleasantly, staring up at her with big round eyes that jangled at her heartstrings and clogged her throat with sadness at the same time. “Aren’t you finished?” she choked out, her fingers weak on the rim of the vessel.
He shook his head slowly, not moving his eyes from hers. There was nothing left to drink.
He paused, snuck a look at the other patrons, and then nodded conspiratorially.
“Okay,” she murmured, sounding uncertain. Her fingers shook around the bottle, but she poured carefully, warily avoiding his eyes this time. Then she raised her face in a warm smile.
He felt it reach out to his skin as sunshine, pleasantly melting the butter of his insides. She moved away again and he leaned automatically forward like a moth when the light had slipped away. It was a risk to be there.
Eventually the café was quiet. Customers dwindled, but still he stayed.
She worked late today. He’d read it on her life schedule. It would get him into trouble. He was only supposed to know the schedules of those he was supposed to give notice to.
He wasn’t supposed to be there.
“Another drink, Ralph?”
He stared up into her pretty eyes and saw the summer staring back. She was so full of life and vigour. Strength and vivacity blossomed from her every pore like the most wholesome of perfumes. A soft smile pulled his slow lips.
She blinked. It was the first time he had spoken. His voice sounded sweet but sad as if he had seen a great many things no one ought ever to have seen. Her heart tugged again, her hand reaching out to touch his arm through the thick cloth of his hoodie.
He looked down at her hand, so small, over the crook of his elbow. Without thinking, he murmured the words, “I would like to feel that…”
Her brow crossed for a moment. “Why can’t you?”
The gulp shook his throat. “I shouldn’t even be here… talking to you… I just like feeling alive.”
“Alive?” she laughed, the merriness spilling into the warm skin of her face. “I’m the most dull person, I know. How can I make you feel alive?”
“Because I’m not,” he mumbled sadly.
Her laughter died in her throat, dissolved by the expression in his adoring eyes. “You mean… you’re dead…?”
“No.” He sighed. If he could only kiss her once… “I am Death.”
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