Ernest ducked his head to catch my gaze.
“Hey,” he murmured.
Hair was unravelling from the plaits I’d hastily braided that morning. My lips were bitten until they glowed a bright, raspberry red. And everything; the plates, my hands, Dracula (open where I’d left off), was stuck to the sticky tabletop in the too cute café.
Ernest’s hair was messy; the way I preferred it. His jacket was the one I’d picked for him at the thrift shop, the one he’d swore he’d never wear. He’d probably even recognise the song playing in the background (Smashing Pumpkins).
I was still getting used to this honesty thing. I swallowed, trying to pluck up some courage.
He was patient. I wondered if he could see the breakthrough, like that iceberg, about to shatter everything that was into everything that would be.
“Do you think two people can love one another forever?”
I expected his answer to come in an instant. Or that he’d pick a hole in my question. So he surprised me by being thoughtful.
“I really hope so.”
Hope. Not know. Not think. Hope, a sentiment so unworthy and unreliable. Ernest hoped.
And I knew that he was right, as usual. I could not know. I could only hope. Even when everything and everyone around me tried to tell me otherwise, hope remained.
“I suppose I could ask you what this is about, but I doubt you’ll tell me,” he remarked, un-sticking his elbows from the table.
“One step at a time,” I warned.