Super Short Story: Surrogation Anxiety 1/3

“I have a date,” Derrick said without warning. The waitress set the drink on the table in front of him.
“Sure,” she replied uninterested, unphased and, unlistening. Derrick looked up; an overhead light shone in his eyes. The shine stopped him from reading the name badge. It prevented him from personalizing the interaction any further.
Derrick flashed a brief, fake smile at her silhouette standing over him. She in her politeness returned the gesture.

As she turned to walk away, he finally saw the name Ciara emblazoned on the badge.

She must be new as he had never encountered her before. Ciara, the waitress, walked back over to her till at the other side of the cafe.

The cafe had few people in it, couples. They were cosying up to one another as unending soft jazz filtered into patron’s ears.

The shop floor was expansive, littered with round tables and hard chairs. If there was ever a need, it could seat one hundred, but there never was.

The cafĂ©’s popularity had waned since it was opening many years ago. Now the skeleton crew that was its staff did all it could to keep it ticking over.

Derrick still liked the place and was one of the few remaining regulars. Derrick came to this cafe for two reasons; the first was for meeting his surry. The second was they did the best hot chocolates in town.

Derrick looked down at his beverage, the awning of the cup chocked with cream and marshmallow. Derrick thought that they always skimped on the marshmallow, even when he paid for extra.

Derrick plucked a marshmallow from the cup. He held it to his mouth and sucked it from his hand swallowing it in one gulp. He looked at the cream that was making the descent from his fingers to his wrist.

Derrick licked each finger. He had now created a clean patch on his skin. Derrick knew he would have to shower but leaving it another day or two wouldn’t make much difference.

Taking a spoon, Derrick began fishing out the clumps of grime. Derrick tried not to push the flecks into the melting mallows. He pushed the dark intruders to one side of the cup. Lifting them out so as not to let them slip through the tiny gap between cup and spoon.

Derrick grew impatient, pressed the spoon too hard and managed to tip the cup over. Derrick did all he could to save the contents of the cup.

The teaspoon slid across the table. It slipped through a gap between the table and window. The spoon hit the ground near his feet. Derrick did his best to locate the spoon with his feet.

After a considerable struggle, he relented. Derrick and bent down to perform a more thorough search. At his size, even this small task put a strain on his heart causing his breath to shorten.

Looking down he could not see the spoon but knew that it was there somewhere. Derrick managed to get the spoon back to hand by pure chance.

Derrick sat upright and noticed that another man had joined him at the table.

“Are you trying to give me a heart attack Nick?” Derrick said, “Because I can’t pay you if I’m dead.”
“Are you trying to give me a heart attack Nick?” Derrick said, “Because I can’t pay you if I’m dead.”
“You can’t still be at risk? You’re looking much better these days,”, Mick said.

Nick always complimented Derrick’s appearance at the beginning of their interactions. This was partly to encourage him but more because he had nothing to say.

Derrick had transformed over the period that the two had known each other.

Derrick’s face was becoming one with his chin which in turn was joining his neck.

Derrick’s face was more akin to that a miserable cliff than that of a human. “How’s work?” Nick said to curtail an ever-expanding silence.

“Don’t talk to me about it, another mine closed,” Derrick said.
“I’m sorry to hear that.” Nick said, “Something will come along.”
“Thank goodness; I was almost worrying.”
“You’ve been through worse.”
“I have?”
“You always pull through.”
“Otherwise we’d be done,” Derrick said.
“And we wouldn’t want that.”
“Unless you want to work for free?”, Derrick said. The lack of response from Nick spoke volumes, “Thought so.”
“I’m a diligent employee but not a charity. You wouldn’t want to give a surry no money. They find a way of getting paid.”
“So you are like the others?” Derrick said.
“I’m speaking on behalf of the unpaid surries out there. You keep a flow going so, that scenario isn’t applicable. Have you given any more thought to that cruise?”
“Seeing as I may be running out of money in the next month or so I’ll say it’s received the appropriate amount of thought.”
“thought I’d mention it.”
“If you want to top up your tan, do it on your own time.”
“I do.”
“Your natural tan then.”
“What’s the difference?” Nick said, “You should consider getting one yourself, you’ll look even healthier.”
“More money I don’t have spent on things I don’t want. I like that, put that on my gravestone.”
“I’ll never get that self-deprecation thing you do down. It’s the one part of you I haven’t got right.”
“It’s not self-deprecating when it’s true.”
“You need a holiday.”
“I do, but when I get the chance, I want to be the one going on it.”

Derrick said.

“You will.”
“I mean physically,” Derrick said. He had drunk the majority of his hot chocolate. Melted mallow sat at the bottom of the cup, turning into a gooey mush, unable to move, trapped. Derrick reached in dragged it up the side of the cup and placed it in his mouth and gulped.
Shall we?” Nick asked, Derrick, nodded.

Nick leaned over and opened up the black satchel beside his feet. He took out a device with several ports and placed it in the centre of the table, the Emphatic 2.2. Not the latest model but it did the job.

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