“How did you know I didn’t make the sandwich for you as, um, appreciation?”
He snorted, then laughed, before answering. “The slam of your door probably echoed through the neighborhood. I don’t claim to be good with women.”
You were good with me. She kept the thought behind her teeth where it belonged.
“Even I knew that you were truly pissed. The best thing I thought I could do was take Charmer for a walk. Thought he could give me some advice.”
She finished constructing her sandwich and turned to catch his shrug. He had to be unaware of it, still it was endearing. Reminiscent of the old movie heroes making a similar gesture in respect to a woman that read: Dames, what can you do about them.
Charmer trotted into the kitchen and waited until Melody slid into her chair before he plopped down between Levi and her. One part of her considered the canine a diplomat, but another part recognized him for the scavenger he was. His best bet was to sit between them.
“Did he give you any good advice?” She bit into her sandwich rendering herself silent as she chewed. It was just as well because she never knew what other witticism she might author. The overhead light threw yellowish light over the two of them rather like a modern painting. If titled, it would be Late Supper or more appropriately, Awkward Snack by Two Strangers forced to Share a House.
Levi finished his bite and chased it with a swallow of water. “Actually, Charmer didn’t have any advice. I suspect he was owned by a man, which explains his lack of knowledge.”
Another funny, the unexpected poke at men surprised a laugh out of her causing her to spew food across the table. Good God, what had she done? Using her hand, she tried to brush up the crumbs. Her eyes stayed trained on her hand, afraid to see Levi’s disgusted look.
His hand covered her hand she was using to corral crumbs and ridding the table of the evidence of her descent into adolescence table manners. “Leave it. No doubt, I’ll leave my own share of crumbs before I’m finished.”
He sounded normal, not pissed, not disgusted, rather a matter of fact. A quick upward glance revealed his eyes soft with understanding. At least, she thought that was what it was. No knowing smirk or superior attitude, Levi never struck her as being that way. Her lips parted to speak, but then closed when no words came to mind. Could she say, I don’t always spit food when eating, but when I do, I make sure to pick the person that my social gaffe would do the most damage.
They both sat under the yellow light saying nothing. Being silent was nothing new to her. It was often her only recourse in living in unstable circumstances. Early on, she discovered defending herself with the truth never helped. Those who chose to accuse her had already made up their mind. Any defense on her part was backtalk and that never worked out well. Silence conveyed guilt, acceptance and even contriteness.
The hallway clock’s ticks filled the space around them. Melody envisioned numbers tumbling around them as if in a cartoon. How long could they sit saying nothing? Talk about a pregnant pause. The expression took on more meaning since she was in it. What would the silence give birth to? All she wanted was for Levi to return to eating his sandwich. Maybe he couldn’t after her stomach turning display.
Charmer’s whimper broke the stillness. The tension could have affected the canine too. Levi lifted his hand allowing Melody to pour her crumbs nearer to her side of the table. Her Intention was to sweep them into her hand and offer them to Charmer. Her eyes stayed on her hand that was almost at the edge of the table, Levi spoke, causing her to forget to put up her other hand to catch the crumbs. Luckily, the dog was ready for such an incident.
“It really wasn’t anything that bad. Consider I’ve had soldiers blown up beside me. I saw something flash across your face. You were with me, then, you weren’t. If you were a combat veteran, I’d say you were having flashbacks.” He angled his head and stared. His expression became contemplative before he spoke softly. “You are a combat veteran, not from the war, but life.”