The Curry

Molly tapped at the screen of her phone, frown lines creasing her face. "I just can't seem to get any signal around here."

"That's Fitton for you. Well, at least I think this is Fitton. Maybe."

The two had finished moving the couch hours ago. The elderly couple they had delivered it to were planning to open a bed and breakfast and had invited Martin and Molly to explore the renovations they had made on their home. It wound up with Martin and Molly rearranging half the furniture in the house several times over until the fickle wife was pleased.

They were invited to sit and enjoy some tea (and Martin was given two bags of frozen peas for his now obviously swollen feet) until they were well-rested. It had been a far more pleasing afternoon than Martin had planned, except for the throbbing pain in his lower appendages. But by the time Molly and he had begun to make their way back to the van, his feet were nearly back to their normal size.

It was dark by the time they left, and Martin insisted on taking Molly out for dinner as a thank you for her help. The elderly couple had doubled their promised pay for the additional help so Martin was eager to spring on the chance of a proper date before his bills ate away the additional funds.

Yet in an attempt to make good time back, Martin took what he assumed was a short cut.

But it was very much not.

They now sat in the middle of an empty field, being watched by a small herd of sleepy sheep. Martin twisted the map back and forth in his lap as Molly tried to load the GPS on her phone. With a heavy sigh, Martin leaned his head out the window of the van, shouting at the sheep, "You don't happen to know what road this is, do you? The first to answer gets this old bag of crisps!"

The sheep started blankly back at the gangly man. Apparently none of them were eager to try the crisps.

Molly watched with a bemused expression. "Alright, well, look out past that hill over to the right. Seems like there is light coming from that direction, at the very least it could be a town where we can get directions."

Martin peered at it hesitantly before maneuvering the van in that direction. "Better than just sitting here."

"Well, we can keep trying to bribe the sheep if you think that'll work better. The one in the front looked like he was about to crack and tell."

"Maybe you should have used your womanly wiles on him."

"Unfortunately those wiles are about as good as my navigational skills."

"They worked on me." Martin pointed out and Molly blushed before wiggling her eyebrows, "That's true. Guess they aren't as rusty as I thought."

The van rumbled over the country road, eventually proving Molly's theory correct as they pulled into a small city. They pulled over at a petrol station, both jumping out to stretch their legs. "Oh, what's that smell?" Molly asked, eagerly sniffing the air, "Something smells delicious."

Martin gave a few sniffs, expecting a whiff of petrol to fill his nose, but was met with the scent of exotic foods. He held back a cringe, managing to force a smile, "You must be hungry if you could smell that over the petrol."

Molly nodded guiltily, "Yeah. But I think it's actually coming from the shop. I'll check it out." She wandered into the station building as Martin topped off the van's tank. He went inside to pay and found Molly seated at a small table. While half of the building was dedicated to selling various car related odds and ends, the other half was converted into an Indian restaurant.

Molly hurriedly motioned him over. "Sorry," she muttered, "the man was very insistent about us staying to eat. Do you mind Indian food? It looks like they at least have a good selection." Martin decided it best not to mention that it had been years since he last had Indian food, and his stomach had been surviving on noodles for the past two months.

"Well, I'm not sure—"

He was interrupted as the station cashier and restaurant host came scurrying over. "Welcome, welcome sir. Sit, sit! Can't leave pretty lady alone, yes, yes?" Martin didn't have time to object before a chair was thrust against the back of his knees and he found a menu dangling before his eyes. He found his hands automatically grabbing it before his mind could object.

"I bring you some wine, okay, okay."

"Oh, um, no. Too much driving to still do. But, really, I was just going to pay for the petrol—"

"Pretty, pretty lady still wants wine though, yes?"

"Water will be great, thank you."

Before Martin could insist they just pay for the petrol and leave, the man vanished behind a curtain into the back. Molly seemed entirely amused by the situation and kept giggling to herself as she looked over the menu. "Guess we are eating here then?"

"I don't think we honestly have a choice in the matter."

"Seems not. What sounds good to you?"

Martin stared at the menu, the words looking like gibberish. Didn't they offer a simple fish and chips? Molly, however, seemed excited by the prospects. She made several suggestions before Martin simple gave up, closed his menu, and told her to order for the both of them. Molly complied and rattled off their order when the waiter reappeared. Martin could only nervously sip at his water and hope those strange words she was spouting were food items. The only one he had recognized was curry.

When their dinner arrived, Martin was overwhelmed by the array. And slightly suspicious as several dishes had an uncanny resemblance to Arthur's Surprising Rice. Molly piled his plate high all the same, chatting away happily as she indulged. She looked at Martin worriedly when he was still poking at the side dish with his fork, "You don't like it? I'm so sorry, Martin! We should have gone somewhere else."

"No, no! T-that's not it! I just…well, it's rather orange, don't you think?"

"It's curry."

"Is it?"

'Try it."

Martin took a hesitant nibble. He wasn't sure if he honestly enjoyed the flavor or if his hunger was suddenly awakened as a roaring monster, but he was soon shoveling in food by the mouthful. By the time they finished, the first feelings of queasiness began to settle in his stomach and he gave a slight groan.

"Alright, Martin?"

"Just ate too much, I think. Hey, wait, put your wallet away, I'm paying for this."

"Martin—"

Molly stopped when she saw the look of injured pride on the pilot's face. He stared at the table, face red with embarrassment, "I know I don't have a lot of money, but I don't want you to feel obligated that you have to pay for things for me. I want to treat you, you are my girlfriend. And you helped me out today, so this is also a thank you." He peeked a short glance up at her, and she realized with the look that he considered her paying as an act of pity.

Quickly she put back her wallet and offered a smile as apology, "Well, thank you, Martin. It was delicious and maybe next time, you'll let me treat you."

"Maybe," Martin replied with a smile, standing. His legs wobbled for a moment and the queasiness he had been feeling became stronger. He did his best to hide it, paying for the meal and leading the way back to the vehicle. Molly was watching him with obvious concern. When he paused to lean against the van side, she worriedly grabbed his shoulder, "Are you sure you're alright? You don't look well."

He managed a nod, but that only made him feel worse. He didn't even put up an objection when she took the keys from him and led him to the passenger's side. By the time they'd reached the outskirts of Fitton, he'd broken out in a cold sweat and Molly was becoming increasingly concerned. "Should we go to hospital?"

"No, no, I'll…I'll be fine. Just need some sleep."

"You aren't fine! You're obviously sick."

"It's o-okay…just maybe…" Martin broke off with a groan, clutching his stomach. "Just maybe, can we stop by my flat? It's close. I just need a quick stop there." He suppressed another moan as a wave of heavy nausea rushed him. Molly quickly agreed and followed his slurred directions to the house. She was still in the process of trying to coax the vehicle into a parking space when Martin paled suddenly, gave a cry of "No! No, no, not here I won't!" and sprang out of the car into a dead sprint into the house.

Molly was left staring after her retreating boyfriend with mouth agape. She snapped out of it by an angry honk from a car behind her. By the time she had finished parking, a young man came sauntering from the front door towards her. He was obvious a student with his university sweatshirt and cocky attitude that oozed from every aspect of his person. He gave her a once over and a low whistle, "Wow, so the Cap'n really did bag a girl."

"I'm sorry, but who are you?"

"Ah, right. I'm Paul, one of Martin's roommates. Nice to meet you. Martin made a mad dash for the bathroom, don't think he's doing well. Anyway, he asked if we'd bring you in so here you go." Molly followed the student inside where she was greeted by three more of them.

"This here is Stu and Michael and the drunkard over there is Walden."

"I'm not a drunkard!"

"Shut up, Wal, no one cares! Anyway chaps, this is Martin's girlfriend."

The group of them stared at her with wide eyes. She shifted uncomfortably, giving an awkward wave, "Um, hello. I'm Molly." Stu leaned over, speaking in a loud whisper to his friends, "I didn't think the Cap'n had it in him." Michael nodded, "Good on him!" Walden took a few staggering steps forward, thrusting his hand out towards her, "Pleased to meet you, Molly! The Cap hasn't stopped talking about you for days, but frankly none of us actually believed you were real."

"Yes, well, I am."

Walden gave a slow nod, still holding her hand, "Yep, yep. I see that you are." Molly gingerly slid her hand free and set a pleading look toward Paul who immediately took the hint. He swung an arm over Walden's shoulders and led him back to the couch and a table full of beers. "We were just watching the match," Stu offered with an apologetic nod towards his intoxicated mate, "You're welcome to join us. Promise we won't let Walden off his leash."

The students crowded back on the couch in front of the telly as the game came back on, and Molly perched herself on the free loveseat. Walden tried twice to switch chairs next to her, but was wrestled back by the others each time. Molly was laughing by his third attempt as Michael, the largest of them all, finally sat on top of the other student. Amidst protests from Walden, Molly heard Martin's quiet voice, "Everything okay?"

She twisted in her seat to look at him, pale and shivering. She sprang up worriedly, snatching a throw off the back of the chair and placing it over his shoulders. "Oh poor Martin. Looks like dinner really did a number on you." Martin tried to brave a smile but failed miserably, tucking the blanket tighter around his frame. Molly patted his cheek consolingly and led him to the kitchen to get some water in him.

He sat on a stool at the counter edge, looking thoroughly miserable as she hunted down a clean glass. Not an easy task. "I'm sorry," he mumbled, "I'm really pathetic, aren't I? Managed to absolutely ruin our date." Molly plunked the water in front of him, grabbing his clammy hand, "I won't hear that rubbish talk, Marin. You can't help that you got sick. Now just let me take care of you without any more fussing, alright?"

The pilot sipped at the water then gave a feeble nod, "Thank you, Molly." She smiled and led him back to the loveseat. Martin was sick twice more, Molly taking care of him and leading him back to the seat after each incident. Eventually he fell asleep while resting against her. She didn't last much longer than him, despite the cheers and general noise of the other boys. Her head eventually rested against Martin's and her eyes drifted closed as a smile remained on her lips.