“Can you taste the cumin? I think there’s too much cumin. Or maybe not enough cumin, I’m not sure…”
We sat on our regular bench in Culver Park, eating Sam’s newest concoction. There was far too much cumin in it.
“Tastes fine to me,” I said.
“Hmm,” he said, not really registering what I’d said.
He cracked open a bottle of water and gulped it down. I watched as a tiny drip rolled down his neck, like a well-formed bead of sweat on this hot summer day.
It gave me chills.
He wiped away the spills at his mouth with the back of his hand, gesturing to me with the bottle in the other.
I saw Alex over his shoulder, reading on another bench, all tight shirt and bleached hair, cool as ice, as if the blistering heat was of no consequence.
“No thanks,” I said.
Alex turned another page. I wondered: what I wouldn’t give to be that book. Delicately held by those smooth hands, my spine and pages traced by those nimble fingers.
Her nimble fingers.
Sam takes another drink, another drip falling down his throat. I think of Alex, kissing away each bead of sweat with her soft lips.
I try to look away. At trees. At dogs. At kids in the park. Anything, as long as it draws my gaze.
But I turn to her. And she’s watching. And smiling.
And I tremble.
“You know,” I say, finally, “I think there’s far too much cumin in this…”