next to a cork coaster that's got thousands of water ringlets on it but no glass or bottle is a little trail of honey drops and dribble, leading all the way to the end of the table. biscotti crumbs have been eaten up by the sticky trail, suspended like insects in amber. there's also a bottle of red wine sitting like a skyscraper amongst the remnants of a romantic feast, empty except for a very shallow ringed pool that's polluted with sediment. a fly descends to make a meal for itself out of the sweet filth that litters the white table cloth. it flies like a drunken pilot though, careening into the wine bottle and landing on its back in a honey droplet. its wings are weighed down by the heavy syrup, but they keep a slow and steady beat. they're drenched though, slathered and batting uselessly. its legs pathetically claw out at the air. it resigns to its fate and eases its motions, sinking deeper into the honey with bubbles forming around its tiny, hairy little body. every one of its eyes looks out but all it sees is the white, white ceiling.
three inches below the fly is the tallest straw of hair that is growing straight out of frederic's scalp. six inches below the fly and three feet over is the face of clementine, red with her previous imbibing of the merlot and surrounded by a net of brunette curls. they've been looking at each other, each with a question the other dare not to ask. frederic's face isn't nearly as crimson as clementine's but his temples are perspiring and the renegade strands that seem to sprout at every angle from his dark mass of hair are sticking to the side of his rounded face. they've been sitting like indians beneath the table for almost an hour. frederic played the white rabbit and instigated their hideout from the after diner dishes and from the world when he ran his foot up clementine's leg and slithered out of his chair and through the white table cloth curtain. clementine followed him down curiously, sliding out of her own chair, smashing her head on the table when she sat up again once she was fully under the table, rattling the silverware. her movements were like a jellyfish, graceful but without form and her drunkenness only intensified this. but in one motion she was nose to nose with frederic, taking the handkerchief out of his pocket to wipe the honey stain off of his collar and chin. clementine closed her eyes deliberately and smiled, letting out a small gust of a laugh.
You know how to clean me up, he said
You're too messy to ever be really clean, she said
You're too clean to ever be messy, he said
clementine furrowed her frow at his accusation, crawling back into the apartment air for only a minute second to grab the spoon of the honey bowl without scraping the excess on the side, leaving the honey trail on the white linen. one she was back in the clandestine den of after dinner affairs, she sat criss-crossed, taking the honey and spreading it all over her lips and letting it run down her chin onto her spotless but damp summer dress. clementine then crawled to her knees, kneeling in the face of her doubting lover.
I concede. You're a pig. An every day pigsty hog, he said
So are you, Mr. Magoo, she said
We're a match then, honey lips, he said
clementine inched only a few inches further and her bee hive flavored lips met frederic's wine stained lips and with time they were both wearing a syrupy mask. but she couldn't stand the feeling of being covered forehead to neck in a substance that made her feel dirty, like she was drowning. she stretched out her hands pressing against frederic's chest trying to free herself from him. clementine turned her face away from his, with strings connecting their cheeks. she distanced herself so far that the honey bond between the two of them broke and she reached for frederic's handkerchief which was under his leg. she wiped her face vigorously until she almost rubbed off her top layer of freckled skin.
I'm sorry, she said
I told you, you're to clean to be messy, he said
And you're too messy for me, she said
now they are sitting with a few distant feet between them, clementine counting the grooves in the wood flooring and frederic counting the flowers on clementine's dress. during the entire hour that had sluggishly dragged on, clementine wanted to escape the post-embarrassment fort to wash her face with warm water and soap but it had quickly become a fortress that held them both hostage. he knew what she meant by messy this time. she had promised that she would never talk about it again, she crossed her heart and hoped to die. she knew what he meant by clean this time, and it made her blush even more, shocked that he could say something like that without his face changing. clementine grabbed a hold of her ankles, rocking back slightly and sighing with the power of the wind. she rolled her eyes back, and all she saw was the underbelly of the dining table. frederic cast his eyes downward, rubbing them, then balancing his jaw in his hand, and all he saw was clementine.