There is a hole in the wall. It is a restaurant.
There is a group, a people directed there after the previous restaurant turned down their number.
In this hole in the wall, there is plenty. Not seats, but people. Not seats, but dumplings. One in the group calls them ‘dumps’, another dubs her crude.
After previously to-ing and fro-ing over the location of their next feed, the herd has settled on a place which lives and breathes and rearranges itself to accommodate their number of six in a long table, nearly the width of the shop. The herd wipes their rain-sodden shoes on a flattened cardboard box and are absorbed into the organism that will later provide their nourishment.
They’re familiar with this place. They’ve been here before. They take their places and order some dumplings. No, they don’t, but they want to. They’re only back because the one time they ate here they enjoyed themselves. But they can’t enjoy yet. The number is incomplete.
Girl #2 doesn’t like dumplings and opts out of the communal meal. She orders stir-fried noodles. The noodles she orders are plural. Girl #1 is hungry for more than a boiled dumpling. She orders a dumpling soup. Boy #1 and Boy #2 wait for Girl #3 to decide, but Girl #3 must wait for Girl #4 before ordering. Girl #4 is printing at the library. She said five minutes. The clock is ticking.
The noodles (plural) arrive and the communal dumplings are not yet ordered. Girl #3 announces: “She wanted pork buns.”
It is decided. The buns are ordered. The earth resumes its slow waltz with the sun.
Girl #2’s plate of hand-made stir-fried slip and slide. Boy #1 and Boy #2 are hungry. Boy #1 audibly inhales and examines the menu further, even though their buns and dumplings are boiling away.
“Caw, blimey, I could do with a good feed,” says Boy #2. That’s a false. He doesn’t say that at all. Instead he sits and Girl #2 perceptively perceives his hunger. The table stares at the plate of noodles (plural). Girl #3 checks the window for Girl #4, then her phone. Girl #2 acknowledges the universal truth that Boy #2 is in want of a noodle and since she has plenty to spare, they negotiate.
“Grab a fork and-“
“there are only chopsticks.”
“Well grab summa those and help yourself in your little bowl there.”
“are you sure.”
“are you sure sure.”
“I won’t be able to finish them anyway.”
It is done.
The chopsticks are fumbled between forefinger and thumb but the noodle is squeezed in a vice-like grip.
The table watches.
Boy #2 methodically pulls at the noodle, sparrow at a worm, but the worm proves too long, not an earth worm but a tape worm. His arm rises up, exposing the noodle in all its glory. Alas, there is no end.
It appears that the plate of noodles (plural) is in fact one noodle (singular).