“This is the last drink I’ll have tonight,” I thought, leaving the party, pretty satisfied with everything. I sauntered down Exposition and noticed how empty it felt. I kind of liked how nothing else was really needed. Suddenly, I wanted something fried so badly. A few blocks down, I found Mel’s Fish Shack still open, the only thing lit up at the intersection like the last corner of bread still holding out from rot. I ordered some fish sticks, but they were crunchy, disgusting, carving out a craving instead of stifling it, tasting like chunk of bread with one last corner holding out from rot. Mel’s Fish Stack was the only thing lit up at the intersection, still open, a few blocks down from the party I wanted to get back to. Suddenly, I wanted to get fried so badly. Nothing else was needed and I noticed how empty I felt as I sauntered down Exposition, even though I was pretty satisfied with everything. I walked back into the party and someone handed me a drink. “This is the last drink I’ll have tonight,” I thought.
THINGS USED TO DRAW PERFECT CIRCLES
2. Vase bottom
3. Dinner plate
4. Jar lid
“Have you ever been to one of those ‘dining in the dark’ places?”
“Twice? Why would you need to go twice?”
“Two different people. First my ex-husband, then Roger.”
She poured tea out of the french press into my cup, first, then hers. As she set it back on the counter, she spoke as if something troubled her, and didn’t want to start the sentence. “Did you enjoy yourself a second time?”
“Actually I did. Much better the second time. Much more fun.”
“What about it was better? The atmosphere? Oh, well, whatever the atmosphere there is at least in the darkness!” She laughed at herself.
“It was Roger. He made the whole thing authentic. At one point I felt his fingers under my chin, and before I knew it we were kissing over the table in the middle of this mass of voices around us. Kind of fun,” I added. She smiled at this, but sort of gave me a look like she didn’t approve. “I couldn’t see him, but I could smell him across the table.”
“What about Drake?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “We just ate. Sure we joked about how we couldn’t see each other, and it was new and crazy and all, and it was so out of the ordinary. But that was just the thing.”
“What was?” She put the soy milk back in the fridge. Sipped from her cup.
“It was out of the ordinary.” Truth was we didn’t go out much, Drake and I. It was an anniversery, so he felt like he had to do something for me. He heard about the place, got some sort of Groupon deal probably. It was a surprise. We took the train. Midway there, sitting on the plastic seats, he comes out with it. He just tells me. And I’m all dressed up, I got dressed up for him, and the first thing I think is I got this dressed up, just to sit in the dark? We hadn’t gone out in what seemed like a year, and even then he didn’t care to look at me. He didn’t need anyone seeing us. This was all I was feeling as I smiled at him, trying to act grateful in some way.
Even during dinner, they sat us up next to the wall. If I started feeling lost, strangely claustrophobic, I could reach over and touch the wall. In between courses, feeling a little bored and helpless, I ran my hands along it just to feel what it felt like. I could feel the light switch.