All her online photos had been of her cats so I wasn’t prepared for the blue hair or the fact that I’d find her septum piercing adorable.
We chatted, words flowed. She told me about her art studio, about backpacking around South America, about the notebook in which she collected the stickers you get on bananas. I felt compelled to tell her secrets but instead talked about my work, my migraines, my mother.
Eventually the words began to ebb away and we sipped at dregs of coffee.
I saw her smile.
“Want to see something?” she asked.
Before I could answer she leaned forward, brought her hands together on the table, palms up. I watched, waited, went to ask – then they started to glow. I jumped when the first spark of light burst out. Suddenly dozens of tiny fireworks shot between her palms and erupted like shattered rainbows, while doll-sized rockets looped and boomed around her fingers. I watched, unblinking, until the show ended and she blew away the twirls of smoke and ember wisps. She stood.
“I’m sorry, I’ve got somewhere to be. It was nice to meet you.”
She dropped money for her coffee on the table, the exact change. By the time I found the words to say goodbye, she was gone. I sat with the space in her chair and the smell of burnt wood. No one seemed to notice, the world rolled on, but for a moment I couldn’t quite see for the inky splodges in my eyes, the afterimage of colour.