All Stories, General Fiction, Short Fiction

Sandalwood and Lobster by Andrew Campbell

Do you like lobster? Hunter asked, and I said yes, because if I said anything else, I wouldn’t be perfect anymore.

The date is at seven, at the seafood place around the corner from my apartment. I ate there once with David, but he paid attention enough to realize that I didn’t like it. But Hunter doesn’t know, and my mouth is shut.

A shower will calm me, and I’ll take one that’s longer and warmer than usual. I’ll wash my hair and face, and when I get out, I’ll sit at my vanity. David’s picture will be leaning against the mirror, and his smile will keep me company. I’ll put on makeup— just a little. I pretend that I don’t need it, but I don’t feel comfortable without it.

When I’m done, I’ll grab the ring that’s hanging from my neck, the one that David wore until he died, and I’ll set it by his picture. I’ll go to my closet, grab one of my dresses, probably the purple one, and put it on. I’ll spend a minute deciding which shoes to wear, but I won’t care about them as much as I used to.

I’ll be ready early, but I’ll leave anyway and walk around the block a few times. The city is peaceful. It’s bright, and people are always wandering down the sidewalks from place to place, never paying anyone attention and keeping their eyes in front of them. They don’t talk or ask questions, and they don’t give me the looks that my family gives me— those concerned looks that say they don’t think I’m OK.

I’ll get to the restaurant a few minutes early. I’ll ask for a table and sit down, so I can avoid the awkward hellos that will happen if we get there are the same time. He’ll show up right at seven, and I’ll be sipping on my water. He’ll sigh and do the same high-pitched “Whew!” that everyone does and say that it was a long day and how he is ready to relax. He’ll order me a drink, probably rum, and he’ll get bourbon and finish it before I’ve hardly taken three sips.

An hour will go by. I’ll be tired of sitting, and he’ll be rambling on about his job at the firm and talking about how he hates his employees, and I’ll wonder if he hates me too, since he is so good at faking it. I’ll play with the food on my plate until the waiter cleans the table and asks if we want dessert. I’ll pass, but Hunter will insist and only give up once I agree to take a few bites of his.

Once he’s done, he’ll ask if I want to go to his apartment, and I’ll nod my head. It’s not far away, so we’ll walk. He’ll complain about how busy the streets are and how he hates that there’s always a lot of people walking around, and I’ll smile and follow him. When we get to his place; he’ll open the door for me, and I’ll walk into the entry way— the smell of sandalwood and burned blunts will be thick in the air. I’ll look around at the messy floor, and he’ll put his hand on my shoulder and guide me to the mattress in the middle of the room.

I’ll be a salty, wet slab of meat, laying flat on my back with his sloppy kisses on my neck, and he’ll whisper my name, but I won’t talk. After, I’ll go to his bathroom and cry the silent tears I’m used to and shake my head to the mirror.

I’ll leave when I’m done; he won’t walk me to his door, and I’ll be on the street alone. I’ll go back to my apartment, turn on the shower, and scrub the awful smell of stale incense off my body. When I get out, David’s picture will be there, and he’ll watch me grab his ring and put it back on my neck. I’ll hate myself for what I did; I’ll hate Hunter for asking me out, and I’ll hate David for dying.

Andrew Campbell

Image by Gaspard Delaruelle from Pixabay

6 thoughts on “Sandalwood and Lobster by Andrew Campbell”

  1. Hi Andrew,
    This is well done and is an accomplished piece of writing.
    It has a superb tone and the pace is perfect. You can feel her despair.
    Also to handle that POV and make it something enjoyable is something that many try but few can do.
    All the very best my friend.
    Hugh

    Like

  2. Too bad the protagonist picked this loser, a masochistic persona or bad conscience seems likely. Overall, truly depressing. That said, the mood is clear and the tension is apparent through the description and images, the writer convinced me that this character was real and would do these things.

    Like

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