The chef looked up in wonderment, and Natalie gave him the most arrogant tilt of the lip she could. She'd spent all the time waiting at the edge of the counter, rearranging her hair, fiddling with the spare cutlery, all in hopes that she could look busy and just blur into the crowd. Her meal had arrived just as her blood had begun to bubble in irritation, and though she regretted snapping, a great part of her didn't care.
"You surprised?" the chef asked, handing her the box whilst gesticulating to the bistro that was buzzing with noise and the affairs of people of no concern to her. "One of our busiest days, you aren't the only one on the breakfast rush,"
"It's called takeaway, not take-your-time," Natalie replied, her voice laced with condescension. "Good day," she turned and left as quickly as she could, her head down as she twisted between standing customers into the cool, city air.
It was easy enough to find a place to sit on in her favourite park, nestled amongst the concrete monuments that unnerved and intimidated her. Nobody really came to the park anymore, easy enough to see just by the creaking swing set flaking orange with rust, on which Natalie sat, the omelette box balancing delicately on her knees brought up to her chest. Very little of the city noise broke through past the trees and hedgerows surrounding her, it was like her own barrier from everything too frightening. Sitting alone and recapping on her trip to the bistro, Natalie realised how jittery she'd become. Even now, she checked regularly to make sure that her long hair didn't get caught in the swing chain, and she tensed each time a jogger or a pram-pushing mother passed the park gates and glanced at her.
This is who I am, though, she thought to herself, I'm a nervous wreck, not exactly my fault though.
"Ugh," she groaned, finishing off her omelette - which she had to admit was rather good - and bringing her legs down. But as her feet connected to the ground and she shifted her weight to stand, a wave of sickness swept over. She slipped back, missing the seat and falling hard, her skin tearing as her hands slipped down the chains. Seething, Natalie breathed deeply and pressed the sickness down into her stomach where it roiled as if something inside her was trying to get her attention. Her hands tingled with something much more than the twitching of her new cuts.
No, not this again. What the hell's up with me lately? It seemed to happen regularly, every time she felt at peace, as if for the first time her troubles had been passed on to somebody else and forgotten, it was either nausea or a headache or stomach cramps, like her body had decided that she wasn't allowed even a mote of tranquility.
I bet those eggs were rancid, she dismissed, bringing herself up and tossing the bistro box into the bin. Damn bistro...
Natalie swung her backpack over her shoulder, rearranging her fringe displaced by the light, spring wind, and with reluctance in each step, headed back into smoke and concrete, making for home.