A Pinch Of Salt


Alistair’s jaw dropped as a group of elephants casually strolled past the coffee shop window; real life elephants. They were part of some circus. The cups vibrated on the plinth where they sat. All Cedes could think about was the time her art lecturer had used the phrase “pregnant with meaning”. Somehow she could never forget it. This situation certainly was heavy enough. The other onlookers in the shop gasped. Everyone gradually began to settle back into their seats. Alistair kept thinking about the dark of the house they would return to. They stayed in the coffee shop for hours, until the moon fell upon them. They made conversation with the Chinese boy working there, not wanting to leave. He was polite to them. There was such a peculiar loneliness between them, as he could see in their countenance they wanted to stay. They left the shop, leaving the bell dangling behind them. The Chinese boy waved to them from the window.

They walked together in the amplified stillness of the snow, watching their breath form trails in front of them. They could see their pitch black house in the distance. It was freezing. Alistair looked at the twinkling lights of the coffee shop. He sometimes had moments when he would look at complete strangers on the street and wish they would invite him to their home and strike up a sudden familiar friendship. He imagined the Chinese boy lived in the flat above the coffee shop and would have dumpling soup prepared for them. There would be a red ironed bar heater in the corner. They would be warm, comfortable and safe, and sink into the beds prepared for them by their host. Now they faced uncertainty in every way imaginable.

No sooner had he thought about this than they were confronted with disarming sweetness. The Chinese boy ran after them across the street to give them a bag of hot dumplings. They had been talking about them. Alistair shook his hand and the boy waved goodbye again; he felt for them. The dumplings were a delicious source of warmth. The gesture acted as a form of reassurance, somehow. They got into the kitchen of their house and put on the kettle. Cedes got two plates for the dumplings and they divided them between them. Soon they would be leaving. Would they come back? Who would miss two orphaned adults in a place like New York? They were too reclusive to ever maintain friends but they felt the Chinese boy would remember them, and in a bizarre way keep them in his heart.

Cedes turned on the owl light. Alistair checked the book one more time. He read “Noctuidae is a pinch of salt” and shrugged. He kept the book on the inside of his coat. They felt for the marks along the lamp. They sipped at their tea and looked upon the moon. Their eyes began to feel as big and round and white as it was. The light of the lamp crackled upon the last drop they drank, when they left themselves behind, landing upon their shadows. They began sinking into a sea of white grains and emerged surrounded by a vast desert. They were surrounded by multiple giant, cone shaped mountains of white sparkling particles. The air was dry and the black night was lit by the moon. Alistair reached out his hand and picked up some of the grains. He held them to his face and smelled them. Then he licked a bit with his finger. “Salt”, he said.

Lena O’ Connell

Lena O’ Connell graduated from the Limerick School of Art and Design in 2009. She specialised in fine art, sculpture. Lena currently lives and works in Tipperary, Ireland. She teaches art to children and is aspiring to undertake a higher diploma in art teaching.

Image Source [http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2010/017/c/c/New_York_Winter_by_Aishado.jpg]