James was eating every chip as slowly as possible. The longer he could draw out the eating, the longer the silence would be ok. She’d polished off most of the bottle of wine herself, and he couldn’t help but approve, in an appalled manner, of her ability to drink the stuff. It tasted how his cat’s litter stray smelt.
‘How’s your...’ Morag trailed off, staring at James’ plate and trying to decide what the miscellaneous deep fried brown thing was.
James stared down at his plate. ‘Chicken burger. I think. Shouldn’t it be in a roll though, really?’. He blushed instantly, were they actually having a conversation?
‘I don’t know where it should be. Anywhere but on a plate’
‘Do you... are you vegetarian then?’
Morag stared at him, a chip half way to her mouth flopping off her fork sadly. James tried to meet her eyes, but found they started watering before he got close to looking at her face. He looked down at her plate. Steak and chips.
‘Oh. Right.’ Probably a good time to stop talking now. ‘But you know, some people, some people just won’t eat chicken. Battery farms and all that, sitting in their own shit all day, legs collapsing underneath them. Pretty disgusting really, when you think about it, eating chicken’. James glanced down at his chicken burger. This conversation would take some saving, better think of something normal to say. ‘They smell weird too.’
Morag let the chip fall from her fork. A minute passed slowly as they both considered their plates of cheap food. Morag was mentally trying to plan a swift exit, willing her phone to ring so she could pretend something terrible had happened to some imaginary loved one. James had given up entirely on impressing the woman. He got up;
‘I’m going to get a whisky.’
‘Fucking great idea. Get me one too.’ She fumbled for her purse, ‘actually, make it a double, here’. She shoved a ten pound note into his hand, squirming a little when her hand brushed his.
‘Nah, it’s fine, I’ll get them’ he felt far more embarrassed then a metropolitan man should, taking money from a woman he was supposed to be on a date with, and put it back in her hand.
‘No, no, seriously, you paid for the food...’ they both glanced once again at the unfinished plates of anaemic chips and budget meat. ‘Well, you paid for the wine then. Just get me a double’. She forced the note back into his hand. Both of them now tired of looking at the scary food, James headed to the bar.
When he returned, Morag was pleasantly surprised to find two doubles of Penderyn plonked down in front of her. He had another two to himself. He sighed as he contemplated his glass.
‘How long have you been doing this then?’
Morag snorted her whisky a little, ‘What do you mean? Drinking?’
James began to feel worried all over again, took a swift gulp of Penderyn and thought fuck it, nothing I say can make it any worse. And she’s probably half pissed by now anyway.
‘Online dating. How long have you been doing this?’
Morag considered her drink. How long was ok? A few months? A year?
‘Three years.’ She gulped the last of her first double.
‘Bloody hell. Three? And you already look so defeated?’ He downed the first glass ‘try four and a half years.’
Morag laughed. ‘Wow, that is pathetic. Cheers’ and the both picked up the second glasses of Penderyn as the waiter finally came to clear away the plates.
‘Yeah, yeah, fine, thanks’. Both looked at each other when he had left and started laughing.
They both finished the last gulp of whisky at the same time. James looked sadly at his empty glass.
‘No offence, but I really needed that’
Morag looked up at him, twirling her glass. ‘Don’t worry, the feeling’s mutual’.