I order a green salad and black tea. I want a toasted sandwich with salami and perhaps some provolone but there might be someone taking a photo of this moment with their iPhone, and it’s important to be photographed eating salad.
I pull my cabin bag closer. I have nestled it on the seat beside me and my hand is resting on it gently. The canvas feels warm. My fingers have been stroking the handle and, when I notice this, I wonder how long it’s been happening.
I curl my hands into my lap.
My nipple is leaking. There is a spot on my shirt that is spreading across the blue fabric, staining it navy. If I was already famous there would be photos of this on the cover of a magazine. It would be a scandal. A girl at the next table stares at my breasts. I search for her phone but she is hiding it. I take my own out and hold it up and to the right, obscuring the milky spill. I Google my own name but there’s nothing yet. I am not famous yet.
The overnight bag is the only thing I have with me. It is awkward, but I drag it gently onto my lap between my stomach and the table. I jiggle the bag on my knee out of habit. I pick up the fork and maneuver the salad into my mouth. All the small annoyances that come with fame, eating a dressed salad without smudging your lipstick, forgoing a full cream cappuccino for a weak black tea.
I practice bemoaning the price of instant fame in my head, although it is all still so new and exciting.
The girl, the one at the next table, takes her phone out of her bag. She glances at the screen. Perhaps she will see the headlines now. I wait for her to look up from the phone. I wait for the moment of recognition, but instead she puts the phone beside her plate and shovels cheesecake into her mouth.
When I have finished eating I shuffle to one side, rest the red suitcase on the bench. It’s small enough to take on an airplane. My name is printed on the old Qantas tag, If I am not famous yet it will be easy to identify me when the moment comes. I photograph the scene, the bag, the table, the half empty cup of black coffee. I put them all on facebook. I leave the price of the meal on the table. A generous tip, I bend and kiss the handle of the overnight bag goodbye.
When I turn to leave I cross my arms over the dark wet circles on my chest. That is the only false note, crossed arms when they should swing free. My walk is practiced, perfect, and when I leave the café I arrange my face into a warm and generous smile. Is this the moment when I become famous?
Krissy Kneen is a bookseller and writer in Brisbane. Her most recent novel is Steeplechase, a ‘chilling addition to the Australian gothic tradition’.