“Sweeten” by Kirsty Logan

Image by Jonathan Monk

Almost sternly, disapprovingly he was saying it’s so important to vote, you really owe it to all the women who struggled so that you could, you owe it to yourself. And although she didn’t want to shatter this little world they’d created, this fort with walls of misspelled menus, this moat of black coffee, there just wasn’t enough cake on her plate to choke back the words, and Voting is just the appearance of choice. There’s no real alternative, it’s just choosing who is the better liar.

And behind them someone’s baby was screaming, and the radio in the kitchen was stuck between stations, and the waitress was coughing as steady as a metronome, and was there really any point in them adding to the noise?

Carefully, neatly, he was cutting his cheesecake with the side of his fork, the tines messy with crumbs, and he had to lick the fork so it was clean and tidy even though he wasn’t hungry. He wanted to push the sugar bowl over to her half of the table because if she pushed it back it meant she didn’t like him and if she pulled it closer it meant she did, but it would make the whole table unsymmetrical and he couldn’t bear to see that, so he looked out of the smeared window as he did it. She picked up the sugar bowl and he smiled, it was more symmetrical now and it meant she must like him, and she poured a pool of sugar onto the fake-marble surface of the table and she licked her pinkie finger and she spread out the pool and she drew patterns in the grains, squares and stars and zigzags, and tiny white grains spilled over the edge of the table and he could not look, he could not stand it, he had to go.

When she stood up to leave she could feel her thighs stuck with sweat to the plastic chair, the throb of her heart from too much caffeine, the grit of sugar stuck to her fingertip.


Kirsty Logan is a writer (kirstylogan.com), editor (fracturedwest.com), teacher, grad student, and general layabout. Her writing appears in Polluto, Popshot, Pank, and some other places that don’t begin with P. She lives in Scotland with her girlfriend.

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