friends are flowers
Jasmine applies another soft, powdery layer of pink eyeshadow, curling the tiny brush by her eyelashes, and the bright light spies the sparkles that fly from her eyes, as they whisper over the sink.
"Do you think it looks the same colour as my lipstick?" Jasmine asks sceptically, pouting prettily, her lips puckered like a rose. "I think it does. Does it?"
I grab her chin and pull it in my direction. "It looks the same. Stop panicking." I add more scarlet to my lower lip, and examine the rich gold slid over my eyelid. I poke her. "Come on, Jasmine. Give me a smile." Its only after I say the words that I realise they're exactly what Levi said to me in the poppy field, as he pulled me to my feet. I wonder what Jasmine would make of our evening stroll home, if she knew of it. It would be fun to see the dirty look on her face, but its all the more interestingly exasperating to know a secret that could kill.
"Why are you looking like that?" Jasmine asks, giving me a suspicious sidelong glance. "New secret boyfriend?"
"No," I say, off-handedly. "But a secret."
Jasmine shrugs. "Mustn't be that juicy then, must it?"
"No it mustn't."
I see her crease her forehead slightly, but she soon forgets in the glittering lights of the restaurant, and the elegant, fragile shine of chandeliers. Levi and Charles are waiting awkwardly at a side table, so unorthodox beside each other. Charles looks really, really confused, as he rakes his fingers through his soft blonde hair, and he extends uncomfortable smiles to Levi, who is sat in his police uniform with the sourest expression I've ever encountered. When he sees me, he mouths what are we doing? Which is rhetorical, because he knows exactly what we're doing.
Jasmine sprints her finger down the side of her gold face, and lets her eyes caress the floor. I focus my eyes on the dead roses in the middle of the table: ghosts of flowers, that never really lived. I signal Jasmine to speak and she flashes me an angry glance.
"So," she smiles sensually, "What are we having?"
Levi smiles back at her, polite, but frustrated. "I think I'll just have chicken."
"I'll have chicken," Jasmine says, running her tongue over bottom lip.
Charles realises he should probably speak, and runs his eyes down the menu, silently screaming, "Er, chicken sounds good. Chicken. Chicken."
I stifle a burst of laughter, and Levi shakes his head at me, offering a sidelong smirk.
"Chicken," I say, "It is."
Jasmine looks awkward as she sips at her coke. "So we're all having chicken," she smiles blankly at Charles, "How did your physics go?"
"Good. Yeah, I think so. Good. Good."
"I think it was good," I say twirling the straw around her two fingers. "Jasmine?"
"It was good," she says, realising only afterwards we've managed to end another conversation, and we sound like boring twats. She laugh, trying to break the tensions. "Ha ha. That's funny. We're all just saying the same things."
"Ha ha," I echo, "Funny."
Levi shuts his eyes, and like shutters, he'd blocking the word out with black out curtains: gas mark on and he can't smell, feel, think. Levi shuts his eyes, and I know we're getting nothing remotely interesting out of him for the rest of the evening. Fantastic.
Jasmine takes her phone out of her bag and texts me, this was a bad idea, lets get out even though I'm sitting right next to her, and she looks even more antisocial now we're both texting.
Charles picks up his glass, "Can I offer a toast?"
"Good idea," I exclaim, bringing my lemonade to his. "Levi. Levi we're having a toast."
We all clink our glasses in the middle, crystal on crystal on crystal on crystal, and the sound is like laughing diamonds, mocking us all. Yes, Jas, this was a terrible idea on my part - but I was only fuelling your flames because you saw smoke and thought Levi was fire, and it turns out Charles is just kindling to start the inferno. In the end, its your fault, Jasmine Ivanov, because its your false alarm. I text her back we have to eat our meals, dumb ass
"To-" Charles begins, coughs, pauses, "Nice food?"
Jasmine and I simultaneously roll our eyes, but agree, "To nice food."
"To nice food," Levi says, just a little after the rest of us. Typical of him not to even like the stupid chicken, even though its seasoned well. Thyme, maybe? Oh, no, maybe rosemary. Wasn't that the name of his blonde-haired American girlfriend he had three years ago? Or not. It could just be me making things up.
Jasmine turns her chair towards me, blocking out Charles and Levi. "I need help with French homework, and photography." She sighs, "And this chicken is delicious. What do you think, Ivory?"
"Its delicious. But I prefer coffee," I laugh, twirling my knife in the gravy.
Levi coughs, dropping his fork. "Its not agreeing with me."
"Maybe its the rosemary?" I suggest innocently. "Is it?"
"I think its thyme?"
"Shut up Charles."
"You shut up, Jasmine."
"I'm tired," Jasmine says. "Really, really tired. And if no-one understands, that's code for I'm Leaving." She drops all her cutlery, and a tenner on her napkin. Then, in a puff of pink eye shadow and fury, she's striding into the silky, slick night with her dark head of hair flickering behind her like a snuff of smoke.
I drop my eyes, but keep a firm hold on my cutlery. Levi and Charles decide to leave as well, leaving the money for their bills on their napkins. Levi leaves enough to pay for my meal as well, and I feel a flicker of something black and cold in the pit of my stomach.
There's rage, and as hard as I try to push it down, it rises like a wave. I close my eyes. I blink. I can't see it. I can't feel it. Its not there?