Jaclyn did not ask for another. After the hostess left, Jaclyn pushed the menu across the table and said, "Just tell me what's good. She disliked spicy food, which always seemed like it was trying to cover up something rotten with an unnatural heat. She didn't want to talk about it. He gave the air of being independently wealthy, something difficult to confirm just by looking at him.
He could have been wearing a Timex and claimed it was a Movado. His leather goods could have been Mexican, not Italian, and she would never know. She worked to keep her suspicious inclinations from getting the better of her, easier to do when she felt his barefoot toes curl around her calves. He was like electroshock therapy, but in a nice way.
An odd vision passed on its way to another table. It looked like a time-release photograph of a city of night, but was probably some flaming dish or another about to be served. The scent of chili peppers made her eyes itch. She pushed back the crushing feeling hit that something was wrong with a gulp of wine. It was too late to get cold feet. She didn't want to screw things up. The waiter poked his head through the curtain to ask, "Are you ready to order, or do you need another minute? The waiter said, "Of course.
Max ignored the napkin on his side of the table, and why not? Who would know if he wiped his hands on his shirt? When the waiter had left them alone, she whispered across the table, "I don't know what to do. Should we order two dinners? Or do you want to split? She looked at the menu and hoped her disgust didn't show. The desserts were made from cottage cheese. It had been a long time since she gone on a date and she wondered if the prevailing mores still prevailed.
They hadn't made clear beforehand who would pay for dinner. What if his money was invisible? This was all so new, so strange. No one had bought her dinner in years. Barry couldn't hold a steady job, so her income not only paid for all household expenses, but the bomb supplies. Stop, she told herself -- I'm here to have fun, not to feel bad about her life. She righted the glass and dabbed at the tablecloth with her napkin. She could feel heat again flood her cheeks. Were all invisible men this brazen? A stranger had groped her ass and was now working his foot up her calves toward her inner thighs.
Barry was gone and the house was empty. She was a bowl-of-cottage-cheese away from bringing Max home and fucking the pants off of him, assuming he kept his pants on until then. For all she knew, he had left them on the barstool. This was everything she wanted. So why did it all feel so wrong? Given better light, grease stains would show, and she might need to use this dress again, just in case things didn't work out tonight. The napkin fabric was the kind of pattern that would hide all stains, a thoughtful touch. The waiter returned with napkins and a salad and hovered over her with the pepper mill.
It was dark enough here that he couldn't possibly see how much pepper he was grinding, but she didn't want to make a scene, or look like she was a whiner. A waiter holding a pepper mill was all about control. He asked you what you wanted, then decided on his own how much spice you needed. The feeling that she lived in a world others dominated was sometimes overwhelming. She stared at the small mound of solid food that swam like an exclamation point in black sauce. It was a drumstick. They must have ordered chicken. She managed to sputter a thank-you.
A minute of uncomfortable silence followed. It was so weird. One day, I was at the Exchange, just like always. I was working the floor, placing orders. I had my hand up and was screaming for attention but nobody saw me. At first it was just a feeling, you know, the kind everyone gets where they imagine they are anonymous.
Then I looked down, and I couldn't see my own feet. It was slightly reassuring that my dick hadn't disappeared, even if it was invisible like the rest of me. Though his story made no sense, she was intrigued. Now was when she wished she could read his facial expressions, to see if he was ribbing her. Instead, she forced her mouth into a weak smile, like she understood yet was above all jokes. She was used to playing this role; she'd had lots of practice around Barry's snotty intellectual anarchist friends. Dinner was uneventful, if highly spiced, and difficult to wipe from her hands.
Everything was covered in sauce that looked like it was made from tar. She wasn't a cultural snob, but familiarity would have been so much easier to tolerate. Her relief was an audible sigh. She finished her third glass of wine. It took a bit of maneuvering to get up from the table. She used the facilities and fluffed her hair with a little bit of water, hair gel, and the electric hand dryer. She retouched her lips and stared down every other woman in the bathroom to build up her confidence.
As she strode toward the door, Jaclyn had a fleeting fear that Max hadn't really paid the bill, that any second the waiter would run after her and drag her back to settle accounts. She rushed out and looked around, unsure if she could count on him. A light evening rain had left a thin coating on the sidewalk, capturing shadows and reflections like a runny watercolor. She cleared her throat. She imagined the scene as it would appear to the police, and sobered up quite quickly.
She managed to get them safely home. She unlocked the door. Because of Barry's paranoia, the house looked like she lived alone. Worried about the FBI finding incriminating evidence, Barry had long ago destroyed family photographs and official records. He owned one change of clothes, which he carried in his backpack. He was not an easy man to love. Max was all over her the second they walked across the threshold.
His soft hands swept across her shoulders and unzipped her dress. The fabric fell like a puddle of water to her feet; she kicked it out of the way.
They tumbled to the couch. He unhooked her bra without fumbling, and lunged for her breasts. This was sex, the way she remembered things from her years in the cult. This next part felt uncomfortable. In her wallet beside her fake ID. She didn't know him well enough to trust this. She'd heard this trope so many times before and still didn't believe it. His hand parted her thighs and he breathed in her ear. I'm already invisible -- how much punishment do I deserve?
Ah well, she thought. It was early enough in her cycle and she had always been reliable. She had suggested safe sex; clearly her obligation had ended. The way she felt, what difference did it make if she got HIV? Please log in to add your comment. See more popular or the latest prezis.
Constrain to simple back and forward steps. Copy code to clipboard. Add a personal note: Houston, we have a problem! Send the link below via email or IM Copy. Who wouldn't feel blest with so many names? Aliya lives with her beloved husband and three dogs in the rural, high desert community of Anza in Southern California. She adores the peace and spacious views of the country and is an advocate of sustainable living.
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