“A tomato, red onion and vegemite sandwich please,” asked the tall man with the beard.
I looked up startled by the unusual flavour combination. In three years I thought I’d heard it all. “What sort of bread?” I asked, listing the standards, white, wholemeal, grain. He thought for a moment. “You got fruit loaf?”
“Thick or thin sliced?” I responded, determined not to be thrown off balance.
“Thick please. Can you toast it?” His teeth were white and his smile pleasant. If I’d had time to stop I’d have noticed the twinkle in his eyes.
I sliced the sandwich in half, wrapped it and handed it over.
“Thanks, see you tomorrow,” he said, the bell rattling as he left the shop.
Work finished, shop clean, we all had a chuckle about the individuality of taste buds.
The following lunchtime, he was back.
“What would you like on your sandwich today?”
“Strawberry jam and tuna please, on one of those twisted bread rolls.”
I handed over his lunch, noticing his broad grin and strong hands. “See you tomorrow,” as the bell rattled and the door closed.
True to his word, as the hour appeared, so did he.
“Peanut butter – the lumpy stuff,” he said. “Throw on some lettuce and salmon too.”
Behind me, I could hear the girls giggle. As he left, their laughter grew louder. “He fancies you,” they said.
“Nonsense,” I replied. He was just being polite. They would have teased more if they knew I looked forward to his visits. Since my Jimmy died, I’d been lonely.
On Thursday, I waited, but he didn’t appear, and I was disappointed. When he arrived, twenty minutes late, I could feel my smile match his.
“What would you like?”
A traditional filling, somehow I was disappointed.
“And add some of those tiny hot chillies.”
I ignored the girls snickering in the background.
Friday lunchtime and he was early.
Today I’d worn lipstick, and done my hair. My workmates noticed, but said nothing.
“What would you like?”
“Chicken, egg, and honey please on white bread.” He took the sandwich, and paused. “And if you’re free on Saturday, we could go down to the river and have a picnic lunch? Meet you at the bridge,” his voice hopeful. I could feel my heart race. “This time I will make the sandwiches. What do you like?”
“Vegemite on white bread, please,” I replied. “It’s not very adventurous.”
He laughed. “That’s my favourite too.”
“So why all the exotic combinations?” I asked.
“How else was I supposed to make you notice me?”
I hadn’t realised before how appealing his deep brown eyes were, or the curve of his smiling mouth which made me feel quite dizzy.
“Well, you certainly did that!”
“Shall I bring anything?”
“Just you, and the antacid tablets, I’ve had the most awful indigestion this week!” he said laughing and the bell rattled loudly as he left the shop.