Love Talk by Justin Aylward

Love Talk

‘I have no idea what language they’re speaking,’ Emily said.

‘No, but they sound happy,’ Burke responded.

Plates clanged all around them, and the tinkling of wine glasses singed the air with a note of oppression. 

There must have been a hundred diners crammed into the restaurant.

The bickering couple were seated two tables away, but even people from the far side of the room were starting to look over. 

They had already been there for two hours, Burke and Emily. A fiftieth wedding anniversary was being celebrated nearby. Burke noted the man and woman looked happy, but they were speaking English. Emily just cooed, quietly wondering how old the couple must be. 

Still, the voices of the two agitated lovers carried over and above the excited din. It sounded Asian, but could have been African.

It wasn’t until the dessert came that Emily realised she was enjoying herself. She waited for the ice cream to melt, and took another swig of wine in the interim. It was that stage of the night when you stopped counting.

Burke patted down his trouser pockets for his wallet. It was tricky to do it under the table without looking conspicuous. After a brief scare, he felt it wedged against his side. 

A team of waiters emerged from the kitchen with large silver platters. They looked professional, lifting them high with such poise.

A jazz band had been advertised, but there was no sign of them, Burke noticed. They might have done wonders for the noise.

The two lovers were now gesturing adroitly. A bartender consulted with another man holding a clipboard. Diners could be heard muttering.  

Emily thought she felt a burp coming on. Burke needed to loosen his belt. Neither one was confident enough to act accordingly.  

Burke kept his eyes on the cutlery. He thought he hadn’t been funny enough. He was going to joke that her dessert was going cold but thought it would sound stupider out loud.

Emily wanted to sample another bottle of wine from the menu but didn’t want to appear like some slattern. 

It was their first date. They still hadn’t decided who was going to pay.

There was another yelp from the other couple two tables away.

‘Like I said,’ Burke repeated, ‘they look happy.’

‘I don’t know,’ Emily said, ‘it’s easier to fake in some languages.’

‘In their country it’s all prearranged.’ Burke said.

‘But what if they don’t like each other?’ Emily asked.

Burke was tearing up pieces of his napkin. 

‘They have no choice.’ He responded.

‘How could you get to love someone if you don’t already like them?’

A wine glass dropped a few metres away, but didn’t shatter such was the thick carpeted floor.

 ‘I have no idea.’ Burke responded. 

Emily stared at the tablecloth, her chin in hand.

Burke thought he felt his phone vibrate, but it was just a muscle.

A moment later Emily burped.

‘Oh, excuse me,’ She said placing her hand to her mouth. 

A burp is the same in every language, Burke thought, and was about to say so.

But another wine glass, this time thrown against the wall, shattered, piercing more than a few ears.

‘What was that?’ Emily asked, turning.

Burke, feeling the opportunity was passing him by, tried to get the attention of a waiter, but they were all occupied by the unfolding scene. 

Justin Aylward is a writer from Co. Dublin, Ireland. Justin has published short stories for Fairlight Books and Fly on the Wall Press in the UK, for East of the Web, The Write Launch, Route 7 Review, and Squawk Back in the US, and for Idler Online Irish Magazine. In addition, Justin has written a feature length screenplay, three short film scripts and a three-act play inspired by the current fuel crisis in Europe.

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