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Submitted into Contest #100 in response to: Write a story where a meal or dinner goes horribly wrong.... view prompt

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My collar abraded my neck as if it were bark. Tediously scratching the surroundings to liberate some of the unrest. I do not know why my tie choked me as if I were strangled to force some truth out. Awaiting in a lobby, with a painting of some city with a body of water that elongated its beauty. I stared at that as I rehearsed what I could say, trying to avoid any possibility of spilling words from my mouth.

For a month I sat on the edge, with aching thoughts in anticipation of this moment. After graduating from college, a job wasn’t one thing that came with the degree. I ended up working at Target while I searched for a job. The process of finding a job offer can be excruciating as I really couldn't find anything that intrigued me, so I settled for what I thought would pay most after 2 weeks of intense searches, but also backed by several months of passive searching. I was hopeful for this interview, although feared it would be a repeat of my 1st interview a couple of months back. I hoped that this could put me onto a path of something, other than what I was on currently.

I still lived with my parents, then again I wasn’t in much of a rush to move out or anything, but I was 24. I've always looked weird upon the whole thing of having to move out of your parent's house in a timely manner, but society always constructs its ideas of what's best for you. So, I had reached a point that I grew tired and was desperate to land a job that pertained something to what I had spent tens of thousands of dollars studying for, or whatever I may be intended to do with this life, so I just began pursuing any job regardless of whether I'd like it or not.

When I arrived, the receptionist welcomed me and asked for my name. 

“Hello, My name is Mark,” I said with a stale voice.

“Great. You’re early. Take a seat, we’ll call you over once they’re ready” She said as if she could smell the nervous sweat I brewed.

It has been so far 30 minutes, each minute feeling longer than the previous minute. Your ability to keep track of time becomes very frail that making any complaint regarding it being incompetent. It’s fair to say everyone in the lobby has made their own distinctive thoughts on how others may be weighing in emotionally and mentally at this moment. Although one objective truth, we all put extra deodorant before leaving the house. To add to the mix, I have dinner planned after this interview with my girlfriend's parents. 

For the past three weeks, my girlfriend Bella has been nagging me to meet her parents like a toddler nags her mother to breastfeed them. I did not share any care in doing so, but since she insisted, I cave in. We’ll be eating at “Marie Louise Bistro”, some french restaurant downtown, a well-thought-out choice of hers. So, the continuity of distress is just the theme of today.

It wasn’t much longer after giving thought to the interview at hand and the dinner that is set for tonight that the receptionist called me up and told me to direct myself through room 13A. My legs hardly felt solid, and my head began to mesh into loose threads. The lights on the ceilings felt like stage lights shining on me as I entered the room, where I was then met by a desk and even more bright lights. As if for a brief moment I had entered into what is depicted to be heaven, but solely for the incandescent light, not for any possible awe of an angelic-like atmosphere. 

I sat down on what felt like jagged forks. And with an ongoing battle of my eyes and the lights that felt like knives being poked into them. What would soon be a full dish of questions being served to me by maybe one of the most intimidating men I've ever seen. He was bald, tall, had a goatee thing going on. His eyes were that of the antichrist, and I could full-heartedly say that if it weren’t for the setting we found ourselves in, I would have feared some incoming harm. 

I tried to ease myself by spelling out some of my favorite words. Thinking of a bright blue sky, contrasted then by a dark gray sky. Both gave me peace. The weather has an overwhelming amount of outcomes, that being one of its beauties. The same could be wished to serve as true in this scenario, but sadly one can’t be held true in two settings. Never did I think I'd get my palms more sweaty than the time I stood on the edge of a cliff, but here I sit on the edge of my seat, hoping I don’t fall into the abyss of failure. 

He wrote on his clipboard for whatever reason. As if he was making observations on a lab rat and jotting down the results of the tests. I looked at him and proceeded to look at my briefcase on the lap. I then felt it unnatural to keep my briefcase on my lap and sat it on the floor. He kept writing, and I kept thinking about what he could possibly be writing so much for. He then walked forward and took his seat at his desk. He took his pen and placed it in his pen holder that had “Niagara Falls” written on it. He then scratched his Goatee and made direct eye contact with me. What followed then were questions that I had read online as being potential questions in an interview. 

After the interview was over he got up and reached for my hand. I shook his hand with my sweaty palm. I could feel his disgust, but then he smiled at me and told me they would give me a call. I never felt more relieved. I couldn't say for sure that I would get the job, but something made me believe that I’d receive good news. 

I had walked out of the office that seemed so daunting when I had first entered but seemed so unflinching now. Although, my stomach did drop in a small way when I got into the elevator. Remembered that I had to call Bella, that I had finished the interview, and that we could move on to dinner with her parents.

Part 2

I had just gotten off the phone with her. She sounded overwhelmingly excited, and she had overly congratulated me. For some reason that raised my suspicions, but I’ve always had had the habit of never taking anyone seriously when they spoke in such a positive way about me. I got off the phone, and I felt a sense of relief and a sense of lurking doom. My girlfriend Bella and I had recently started dating. Well, when I say recently I say that to favor my argument about why not having met her parents, but In reality, we’ve been dating for a year and 5 months. You could say that meeting her parents is a bit overdue, but to her parents, we’ve been dating for only 7 months or so. So, at least they won’t have that against me, but I’m sure I’ll amount reasons for why they’ll want to forbid our love without disputing families having to play a role. 

I got home and sat my briefcase on the floor. I did not expect tranquility to be a companion of mine on this day, but if I kept smiling enough I could make it my reality. I got upstairs, feeling the weight of every step sink into my soft carpet, wishing I could do the same with my head onto my pillow, but a cold shower awaited me. I got in the shower and got out in quick succession. I wished to put this day to an end with a shower and a nap, but I had to go out to this dreaded dinner that I knew would be a pain. Just then, Bella had called me, and I waited to answer, thinking of maybe pretending to act sick, or that I was in traffic. Just anything that could give me the possibility of getting out of this.

I answered. “ Hey, babe. How are you doing, because I’m doing fantastic.” I sounded like Mr. Rodgers.

“Sooooo, when do you think you’re going to get here. ” I could tell she had more excitement built up into her than a child after seeing fireworks for the first time. 

“Well, I’ll be there soon. Just getting ready.” My mom then interrupted me to ask me how the interview went. 

“I’ll let you go, just get here before 6:45. Love you.” She hung up the phone. 

I looked at my mom as I sprayed on Cologne and threw on a shirt. 

 “So, do you think you got the job?” She asked holding her hands together up to her chin.

“Well, I won’t know until I get the call, but I think there’s a good possibility.” I watched my words to make sure she didn’t have too much nope, or not enough hope.

She followed me into the bathroom as I put face cream on. 

“Were you nervous? I know how nervous you can get .” Her basis for that is the stage fright incident of the 4th-grade play, where I peed my pants in my costume that I played the cowardly lion in The Wizard of the Oz. 

“Yes, my palms were very sweaty” She glanced at them as I then ran them through my hair to adjust it.

“Well, you looked very handsome in your suit. Now, you're going off to see her parents, right?”

She sounded worried for me.

“Yeah, not sure what to expect, but you adjust to the curve of the ball, right?” She didn’t seem convinced of my confident remark.

“Well, that’s for you to figure out honey. Just know, you can never fail by being yourself.” 

“Assuming you’re a good human being,” I responded with some laughter, while I ached in my head. 

“Well, tell me how it goes. I can’t wait to hear about it.” She couldn’t wait to have a laugh. 

“Okay, I will.” With that, I shuffled through my bed to find my keys. I threw my boat shoes on and went to pick up Bella. 

For some reason, every stoplight had the joy to make my life a bit more miserable. It’s as if the stoplights had synchronized like a swimming team to turn red just as I arrived. Although, given my mind time to boggle back and forth, clashing back and forth between different responses I could give to some of the potential questions. Sadly, I hadn’t read any articles online on the questions that parents may ask you. Maybe, being myself was the best option, but maybe I could pretend to be a prince charming. Dance with her parents with a sophisticated vocabulary and unnecessary use of metaphors to life to create some complex character that they wouldn’t even bother asking where I live or where I worked. That seemed the most viable option in a fantasy world, but the real world asked for a dose of reality from me. 

I had arrived at Bella’s house. I ringed her doorbell and she met me with her beautiful smirk, and the blink that shortly followed after our direct eye contact had been made. I kissed her. She told me I was five minutes late. I held her hand and we walked over to my car. I opened the door for her sarcastically. We sat inside, as she continued to complain about the heat. We pulled out to head out to the restaurant.

We got to the restaurant and I could feel my hands brewing up a sweat. I felt like I was standing on the edge of the empire state building, looking down at the street, seeing the toy-like cars move up and down the street. I didn’t know which door to go through, or at this point, which leg to lead with when I walked. My girlfriend got up to the hostess stand and told them the name of the reservation. The hostess told us we were the first to arrive, I felt a bit of relief. 

We got to the table and I took a seat. I felt discomfort that reminded me of the time I forgot my sandals when had gone to the river to swim and I ended up walking barefoot on top of the rocks. I took my napkin and placed it on my lap. I then raised my sight to the menu to give it a quick scan. I sighed at the realization that I didn't see anything that I thought I would want on the menu, but then again I didn't really know what I wanted. What lousy dish would I get today? As I was looking down to fix my napkin again, I could hear Abby greeting her parents. I looked up, there they were. They looked kind, but my insides continued to churn. I wanted to run in any direction, but I didn’t even know which direction would be best. They sat down. I waved.

“Hello, how are you guys? It’s so great to meet you” Not that great really.

“Very good. How about you?” The father said as he fixed his glasses and twitched his nose.

“I’m good, thank you for asking,” I said as I looked down at my lap to put focus on the vibration of my pocket.

I checked my phone and I’m pretty sure it was from the job. I excused myself, they didn’t seem to care. I heard their dialogue continue as I walked away with the phone in my hand to head to the exit. I was outside now, feeling the 7 o’clock sun hit me on my neck. I answered with an aggressive hand jerk, worried it would cut any moment now. 

“Hello, this is Mark, who is this?”

“Hello Mark, it’s Quasi Finances and we’re contacting you regarding the interview. We’ll cut this short and we’d like to inform you that we have a job to offer you. The catch is this -- it’s in New York City.” 

I thought for a moment. Well, I’ve always wanted to live somewhere new, but Bella. Her life is here. Mine is somewhere. 

“Well, thank you for the opportunity. I’d have to get back at you later, I can’t give you a decision just now.”

“Of course, I understand. Call us by Monday. Talk to you then Mark, take care.”

“Take care.” I forced out those words. 

I stood there and looked at the leaves. I couldn’t make out what direction they were blowing. They almost seemed confused as to where to blow. I leaned over, bowed my head to my feet as I paced around as if I were searching for something I had lost. I walked over pavement, but it felt like I walked over the steady flow of a lake where the sun shined on it allowing me to see my distorted reflection. One question became many questions, it was now a distorted reality. I looked around for a moment, pacing my eyes, seeing buildings rise several feet off the ground, to then see cars out in the distance moving up and down the street. Stopping at stoplights, stop signs, and following road signs. I stood tall and red from the heat like some of those road signs, but yet I felt belittled by them. 

July 01, 2021 18:24

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1 comment

Aliyah Rajput
16:09 Jul 03, 2021

Very good!! Beautiful use of details and similes. Very good comparisons drawn.


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