Shaun stretched, took a deep breath, and really put his back into dragging a fork across the table and lifting it onto a napkin. Once again with the spoon; he left the knives to Janine, since knives always came with larger, heavier handles. As for his own place setting, he simply hauled another napkin over to her plate, beside her waiting coffee, where he could crawl up and partake of whatever samples she set aside for him without getting footprints all over her plate.
Breakfast sausage sizzled in the skillet, spreading the spicy scent throughout the apartment. Shaun grinned, looking forward to the runny eggs and buttery toast. He may not have cared much for Sunday evenings—what he called “Monday Eve”—but he loved his brunches with his girlfriend.
Her smartphone tinnily reported the events of the week in review. Bad news all around, getting worse. He looked up at her from the tablecloth: her mouth was set in a scowl as she shuffled the sausages around, every jerk of her elbow making her long hair shudder.
“Everything okay, sweetie?” he hollered up to her, but she couldn’t hear him over the skillet. When she brought her juice glass over he asked again, getting only a distracted yeah, sure in response, watching her shoulders turn and her back retreat to the kitchen. His brow furrowed and he watched her carefully as she brought the sausage, toast, and one over-easy egg to the table.
Janine’s chair creaked when she sat down. One obnoxious motorcycle roared outside, disappearing into the distance. She paused her podcast and spread her napkin on her lap.
The tiny man knelt on his napkin, watching the egg slide fluidly onto her plate. “You’re sure everything’s okay, Janine?” he attempted once more. The sausage rolled out like a wagon wheel before him, halted by the toast. The way it tumbled would’ve made them laugh any other day, but Shaun was intent on reading her expression, and she was intent on masking it.
She only slit a corner out of her eggs, letting the yolk run into a corner of toast and chopping this off for her boyfriend. He watched the large, heavy knife hover over the toast, then come down decisively. The tiny chunk of toast bent, then flipped once. Again, funny, but Shaun could think of nothing but the dense stillness in the air around them.
“Did something happen? Did you get a text from your family?”
She sipped her coffee sharply. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m just wondering what’s happened to your mood.”
“My mood’s fine.”
“It’s really not. Everything about you says you’re mad at something. Did you sleep okay?”
“I slept great,” she muttered. Shaun couldn’t help notice the way her breasts swung under her thin t-shirt as she sawed at the sausage. She amended: “I guess I slept crappy. Kept waking up.”
“I’m really sorry to hear that.” He grinned shyly. “I hope my snoring didn’t keep you up.”
She paused, a wedge of spiced meat on the end of her fork, and stared at him as though noticing him for the first time. Her mouth hung open for a moment before her lips pursed. “I know what you’re trying to do. I just don’t want to talk about it right now.”
He sat on his feet, fists balled on his thighs, and leaned forward like a tiny samurai. “Then we’re definitely going to talk about it right now.”
Her eyelids fluttered as she sighed. “Let’s not ruin breakfast, okay? Let’s just try to have a nice day.” She jabbed the sausage in her mouth and chewed it so savagely it sent a chill down her lover’s spine.
He only stared up at her. She raised her eyebrows and prodded the yolk-sopped toast at him. He refused to acknowledge it.
She slammed her fork down. “Fine, you want to talk about this? The other day, when I was… helping you out in the bedroom…”
He grinned at the memory: she teased him with her sexy bottom, doing a little dance by the edge of the bed, while he gratified himself immediately below. No contact, no physical endangerment, just a simple show for him to admire.
At his grin she faltered and looked at her orange juice. “I haven’t felt very close to you since then because I felt a little used.”
He goggled at her. A tiny little guy, not quite as tall as her index finger, taking advantage of her? “But I… Hey, Janine, I’m sorry you feel that way. I thought you were okay with it.”
“I was at the time,” she started, running her fingertips over the juice glass. “I guess. But I didn’t really get anything out of that, you know?”
“All you had to do was ask! You know I’m more than happy to give you your cookie when you want it.” Shaun stood up and climbed upon the edge of her plate, still gazing boldly up at her face. “And you know there have been plenty of times I’ve taken care of you without wanting anything back. What’s going on?”
Her eyes flickered over him. “I don’t know, it just felt different this time. It didn’t feel like you were interested in me, you just wanted something to look at. Like you could’ve just watched a video instead.”
“But I don’t want a video. I want you, Janine. You are sexy to me. You’re what turns me on.” His serious face was so small, she giggled despite herself, quickly stifling it. His brow furrowed: the more serious he got, the cuter he looked, and she struggled to contain her inappropriate laughter. “I’m sorry if this upset you. Should I not ask for something like that again?”
Both her hands slammed upon the table, and Shaun had to clap his palms over his ears. “That’s not what I’m saying!” she cried. “That’s why I didn’t want to have this conversation! I don’t want you to feel like you can’t ask for stuff like that from me! Damnit, that’s why I didn’t want to bring this up.”
Finally Shaun went for the toast, propping it up and descending his tiny head upon it, munching quietly. “But you’ve been silent and distant ever since. How is that better?” he asked her daringly. “In fact, isn’t that the opposite of everything you’ve told me to do? You’re always telling me to start the difficult conversation, that you’re allowed to react badly, but talking about it is better than keeping it locked up inside.” He smirked, his face glistening with golden yolk. “And now the student has become the master.”
Janine barked a laugh, apologized, then laughed some more.
The tiny man bent to wipe his face on the napkin. “What were you afraid of, anyway? I love you no matter what. Sure, maybe my feelings could get hurt for a moment, but we’d work past that. Right?” He stood and balanced around the periphery of her plate, hopping down to approach her at the edge of the table. He thumped his little fist against her sternum. “You shouldn’t keep that shit locked up in here. It does no good. Let it out like a real adult, treat me like a real adult, and we’ll work through it like adults. Okay?”
Her huge head hung over him, her face slightly shadowed in the grove of her spilling hair. He was very conscious of his minuscule morning outfit, well-tailored but hanging chunkily upon his fine frame. Heat radiated around him from her boobs, now resting on either side of his frail body. She grinned down upon him with a clownish double-chin.
Her arm swept behind him and he toppled into her cushioning palm. She raised him to her face. “Aren’t you the evolved lover,” she whispered, grinning with a warmth he hadn’t seen in a while. “I promise, Shaun, I’ll come to you with all of my problems from now on.” She beamed at him, extending one slim finger to lightly brush his chest and belly with her fingernail.
He waved her face closer. “C’mere a second.”
Curious, she brought him up to her chin and began to pucker her lips.
“No, smile for me, big and wide.”
Her eyes smiled and her lips spread broadly to display a radiant grin. Her lover was blurry beneath her nose, and then she felt something slip through her gums. She jerked her hand back to see Shaun sitting there with a knot of gray-brown gristle in his fist. “You had this stuck in your teeth,” he said plainly, making as though to eat it himself.
Janine shrieked and dropped him in her eggs.