The unspeakable English
Wu Hua felt so relived when he saw that there was already a woman ordering in front of the counter. The fan was on and it was making a constant buzzing noise on the ceiling. Good, or it would be awkward if I were the only person here. All the waiters will only stare at me then. He walked to the counter while looking down at his wrist where his watch was. He already knew it was exactly two twenty-three in the afternoon. He checked it right before he entered the coffee shop. He checked simply because he needed his eyes to be busy so he didn’t have to worry about accidentally making eye contact with people. I will get a bagel, a plain one. He thought, glancing sideways at the menu board on the wall to his right. No. I will order a whole wheat one with smoked salmon and cream cheese. Wu Hua thought, changing his mind. I don’t like cream cheese but that’s what people do with sandwiches. I don’t know what else to put on a bagel. Maybe I will just scrape it off when I eat. He pulled on the bottom of his shirt and rolled his shoulders back slightly. Then he smoothed out the wrinkle with a few quick slaps like he was trying to get some dirt off of the shirt. He had been careful not to stand with his toes pointing inwardly or with his back hunched. He knew how a confident person should look like. He had read every single advice he could find online on that subject. It’s my turn next, maybe I should get a coffee as well? He gave it a hard thought. After all he did feel quite thirsty. His eyebrows pinched slightly towards the middle. No, that’s too complicated. I’ll have to stand here longer for that. Has she finished ordering yet? He lifted his eyelids up a little bit to get a peek at the woman in front while pretending to brush the hair away from his forehead. Soon. He coughed to clear his throat as lightly as he could after that and wiped his hands on the side of his jeans. The denim there turned a darker color. Remember to smile when you speak, and make eye contact! He decided to run his line in his mind to make sure he knew exactly what to say. Just say, I’ll have a… a what? Shit, did I think sesame bagel before? No, a whole wheat bagel you idiot! It should be a whole wheat bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese. He practiced again. A whole bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese. No! A whole wheat bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese! Stop messing it up! The woman started to put her wallet back into her purse. The buckle of her purse clicked. A whole wheat bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese. Wu Hua tried to let his arms and hands hang down casually on the sides of his body while he stepped closer to the counter. A whole wheat bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese. He remembered to stretch out a smile with his lips and made eye contact with the boy at the counter who was staring back at him. A whole wheat bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese. He couldn’t decide whether he should blink or not. He’s got such an annoyed expression on his face. Did I do something wrong? Am I being too slow to order? Quick, say what I have just practiced! Don’t be such a coward! I know the line already! He blinked, quickly wiped the sweat off of the tip of his nose and opened his mouth. A whole wheat bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese, a whole wheat bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese. Just when he was about to speak out the first word, he felt something flipping intensely inside of his chest. He immediately reached for the counter with both of his arms and bent forward as though he was suddenly pushed hard by a giant hand on his back. From the dark hole of his throat, two fat stinky salty fish drenched in slime slipped out. They hit the surface with a bang that sounded wet and squishy. Their emotionless fish eyes stared emptily at Wu Hua and the boy behind the counter whose face now wore the expression of a silent scream. The fish struggled as viciously as they could and fell onto the floor. The sound echoed in the coffee shop, very loudly and clearly.