Depression Cake

They talked easily, asking questions and exchanging information in the age-old dance of first dates.  Interwoven in the conversation was an ease of mind, and, more interestingly, an ease of body.  Gradually they began to mirror each other, hunched forward on elbows, or leaned back with arms or ankles crossed.

When the food arrived, sugar, creamers, salt and pepper, and ketchup passed gracefully back and forth.  Very soon forks were crossing and they were eating from each other’s plates.

He had one half-slice of toast left, and with an almost guilty look he tore open a packet of sugar, took a pinch and sprinkled it on the bread.  “This is gross, I know,” he mumbled.  “I’d freebase sugar if I could…”

“My grandmother used to make me Depression Cake,” she said, utterly charmed.

“What’s that?”

“It’s Wonder Bread with margarine and sugar.”

Three very deliberate, pleased chuckles tolled from deep in his chest.  “Nice,” he intoned.  “I don’t often meet a kindred spirit when it comes to sugar.”  He brought the bread towards her mouth and she took a bite.  Solemnly, with no more talk, they shared it down to the last bit of crust.

She stretched her legs and put her feet up on his bench, one on either side of his knees, feeling the fabric of his jeans against her bare ankles.  He leaned back against the banquette, ran his hands through his hair again, and then gently laid them down on her shins.  He didn’t rub or stroke her, just laid on his hands, huge, strong starfishes of warmth on her calves.  She wished he had four hands so two could stay on her legs like that, and she could hold the other two in her own.  She wanted him to look at her with his hands.

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