The man resembled a bear with his awkward posture and clumsy gait. He lumbered over and gazed at the girl with his dark beady eyes.
‘Drink?’ he said.
The girl wasn’t sure they’d click, physically anyway. When it came to animals, she was more of a deer and she imagined her slender frame might snap under the weight of this growling mammal. But hybridisation was all the rage nowadays so she figured it might work.
As she chewed her olives, she told him of her dream about her and the cat. How she’d been locked in and licked for hours by its sandpaper tongue, before the frenzied biting began and then the gobbling as it devoured her flesh and crunched her bones.
‘Sounds more like a nightmare to me,’ he said as the waiter shuffled over with a menu.
But it was only their first date so he would think that. He didn’t know her after all.
‘It wasn’t such a bad dream. I felt no pain anyway,’ she said as she took a gulp of Merlot. ‘In some ways it was nice. I didn’t have to bother with a funeral, and at least my cat got to eat something nice for a change. Being devoured is akin to being loved,’ she added. ‘Sorry,’ she said as she spotted the man’s dangling frown. ‘It’s easier when it’s full, the moon I mean. When it’s shining somewhere else, you get my dark side.’
The man nodded and ordered some cheese.
So when the moon was as round and yellow as a pancake he took her out again.
‘Any news?’ he asked.
And she told him of the last time she’d had a man over and how the unwavering gaze of her cat had made her so self conscious that she slid out of bed, pulled open the curtains and leaned into the cool night, breathing in the dark air and absorbing the fingernail tip of the moon.
‘Come back,’ her beau had whined, but the cat kept on staring so she couldn’t. And when the man went, she stared back at the cat for a while. It was perched like a bookend on a shelf.
‘It’s your fault I’m single,’ she mouthed, and she told the man how weird it was that after three years together, it still didn’t know her name.
As she spoke, she overheard snippets of conversation – whether to order the spring or summer rolls, the pho or the fish curry and predictions about the weather at the weekend.
‘Why are people so boring?’ she said.
The man sipped on his carbonated water and observed the girl, the blister on the side of her nose and the beads of sweat which glistened like dew on her freckled chest. She was different from the rest. Her profile photos featured animals – llamas and alpacas mainly but occasionally more aggressive mammals like lions and bears.
‘How the hell did you take that one?’ he said. She was doing the peace sign and one spindly arm was lassoing the bear’s neck.
‘Right time, right place.’
‘I think so too,’ he said as a smile lifted his snout and illuminated his enormous face.