It was mid afternoon when Frank arrived at the Shallow Oyster. He sat at his regular two-person table right by the window so that he could look outside while enjoying his food. He would usually stare out the window and watch the seagulls soar through the air and swoop down in a ravenous decent in order to scoop up the smallest amount of food they could find. This was normally his favorite day. Every week he would look forward to this one day, this one moment, where he would go to his favorite restaurant and sit at his favorite checkered clothe table eating his favorite food. However, Frank knew that he wouldn’t be enjoying his meal very much today. In fact, he was dreading his favorite day.
His waitress glided over to his table. Frank loved this waitress. She never had a fake smile plastered on her face. Her smile was genuine; she truly loved her job. Frank found her as a rare creature. Not many people are always happy everyday, but this one waitress some how found the secret in finding the good in everybody and everything. Frank envied this girl. She handed him his menu and a tall glass of iced cold water. She knew exactly what he was going to order today but she gave him the menu anyways out of respect. He liked that. The waitress quickly vanished to take orders from the tables surrounding Frank. He took a glance down at the menu just out of habit. He was looking through the soup options when the restaurant’s doors opened and he felt a wave of cold air splash his face. He looked up and knew that the coldness wasn’t just the crisp fall air outside. She had arrived.
She entered the restaurant with a sense of power. Everybody turned to look at her; they couldn’t help it. She was the type of person who strived on attention and when she wanted it she would get it. Frank even fell for the trap. She sucked him in with her sweet voice and pretty blond hair and innocent blue eyes, only to realize in the end that it was all a scam. She finally reached the table where Frank was sitting. Frank drank her in. She was wearing a tight fitting red dress that Frank had complimented her on several times in the past. Her hair was curled in a relaxed fashion with a black barrette holding the strays in place. She looked down at him with those piercing blue eyes and her mouth formed into a question.
“Is this seat taken?”
She already knew the answer but Frank shook his head anyways. She pulled the chair out and sat down in one fluent motion. Frank watched her every move, her magic still worked on him.
“Hello Frank.” She cooed.
“Sandra.” Frank slightly bobbed his head.
The waitress swooped over to the table and handed Sandra a menu and quickly sprinted off to deliver more food. Frank didn’t want to talk with Sandra so he distracted himself with his menu. He studied the menu as if he never looked at it before. Sandra followed his lead though it only took her two minutes to choose what she wanted before her head popped back over the menu to look intensely at Frank. He wouldn’t return the look though, he just continued staring down at his menu waiting for the waitress to return so that they could place their orders.
Finally the waitress came back to the table and asked them if they were ready to order. Frank nodded his head and opened his mouth to speak but Sandra was too quick for him.
She gave the waitress the look of death and said with poison in her voice, “Of course we are ready to order. We have been waiting here for at least 10 minutes waiting for you to come back and take our order. I never knew that this job was this difficult.”
The waitress looked at Sandra dumb founded. Frank could tell that no one has ever spoken to her like this before, and why would they? She seemed to be the nicest, friendliest girl. But this is what Sandra did. She would study who she considered to be her enemy, which consisted of every young, pretty girl, and would try to find their weakest point and would work with that flaw to make them feel vulnerable and horrible about themselves. Frank was extremely upset that Sandra decided to hurt this waitress. The waitress continued to look at Sandra; she seemed to be in some sort of trance. She finally snapped out of if and slapped on a smile.
“Oh. I’m terribly sorry you had to wait so long. It won’t happen again. Now, what can I get you?”
Frank ordered fish and chips while Sandra ordered the lobster. He remembered that she never really cared much for lobster, but when she didn’t have to pay she seemed to be in love with it. The waitress scurried off as fast as she could. Frank could see the waitress’ happiness melting away. He could see it in her eyes. No doubt about it the waitress ran off to hide either in the kitchen or outside where she could cry and break down. Unfortunately, Sandra won this battle. Though she usually does.
Sandra turned towards Frank again with that same fake smile spread on that same fake face. He really hated her, and yet couldn’t help but look at her with admiration. After what seemed to be a century of silent staring Sandra finally piped up.
“So. How has your life been lately? Mine has been splendid. If you haven’t already noticed my ring,” she flashed the huge stone in front of his face, “I got married. I have two kids, they’re the devil but god knows I love them. Though I have to love them, right? Other wise society wouldn’t accept me. I would be considered as a terrible mother, and I don’t want that title. So how has your life been?”
Frank glared at Sandra. He started to bring up his shields again. He’s going to need them in order to last throughout this entire meal.
“Well. I’m not married and I have no kids. I’m currently single. I work a moderately well paid job. My life is simple but my life is good. I’m really enjoying it.”
He looked at Sandra with a sense of accomplishment. He told her everything she wanted to hear but by adding in the part about how much he loves his life would ruin it for her. Sandra looked at Frank with a set face. She was determined to make Frank feel awful about his supposedly great life. That was her goal for today.
“I’m so glad you love living such a simple and easy life. I love my life a lot too. Though I don’t work an actual paying job, raising two kids and making sure your husband is happy is hard work. But I’m happy with it. I like working hard everyday. I like not having a simple life. Every night when I go to bed I feel like I’ve accomplished something and I can sleep easy.”
Sandra never broke eye contact while she talked to Frank. Though occasionally her eyes would travel across his face to see what changes her words made.
Frank refused to let her words affect him today. He worked on his hard exterior for years. Ever since they broke up he promised himself that he would never let another woman make him feel less than others. He built his wall extremely tough. He felt like a rock. The waitress returned with a tray full of food. She placed Frank’s dish neatly on the table in front of him and then very precisely placed Sandra’s lobster in front of her. The waitress was very careful not to make another mistake in front of Sandra.
“Is there anything else you need?” The waitress asked with a slight shake in her voice.
Frank could tell that she still hadn’t been able to regain her composure. Sandra opened her mouth when Frank interrupted her.
“No dear. We’re fine. Thank you very much.”
The waitress smiled and scampered away as quickly as her feet would let her go. Sandra shot Frank a glare but quickly wiped the look away and placed her fake smile back on.
Sandra picked up her lobster and tore it’s claws off it’s lifeless body. She took the little tool you use in order to break open the lobster’s shell and jammed the claw into it. She pressed down with ease and the shell cracked open with a satisfying sound. Frank cringed. Sandra picked up the claw and feasted on it’s insides. She had a look of satisfaction in her eyes with every bite she took. It made Frank nauseous. Sandra looked up at Frank between bites and smiled. She took a napkin and politely dabbed at her mouth.
“The best thing about lobsters is that once you get past that hard shell you are rewarded with the soft and vulnerable flesh inside.” She said with a wicked smirk splashed on her face.
Frank just looked at her. She picked up her meat again and continued chomping away. Frank finally turned to his plate and started to pick at the fried fish. He noticed that there was a lemon wedge placed next to the fish. He picked it up and put it to the side. He never really cared much for sour things. Sandra watched Frank as he removed his lemon. She quickly scooped it up and squirted the juice all over her lobster meat. She picked up a strip with the lemon juice pouring off it’s sides and stuck it into her mouth. Her mouth stayed perfectly straight and her eyes remained dry. Frank’s mouth started to pucker up just at the thought of all that bitterness on one piece of lobster. He didn’t understand how she could stand so much bitterness.
“I’m really glad you agreed to meet with me. I needed to see a friendly face. My spirits really go up when I meet with a friend from the past and I get to hear what they are doing with their life.” She said looking deep into Frank’s eyes.
She returned to her lobster meat. She was like a parasite. Finding her prey; prying him open; eating the soft flesh inside; and then tossing him away.
“Well I always enjoy meeting with old friends. I was a little surprised to hear from you actually since the last time we saw each other was ten years ago.” Frank nibbled at his fish for a bit and then stuffed a few fries in his mouth. Sandra looked up at Frank.
“Like I said. I was feeling a little bit down and needed to see a familiar face. You know? A blast from the past?” She looked back down at her food when she said this. Frank was able to break apart this sentence and hear what was really being said. He knew the reason why she needed to meet with him. She was feeling down about herself and so she needed to meet with him so that could regain her strength by feeding off of his insecurities. She has always done this. Frank looked at Sandra as she licked her fingers clean. Sandra’s smile grew as she cracked each shell opened and ingested it’s insides. She felt good every time she broke down another shell. It made her feel powerful, useful. Full.
“This lobster is delicious Frank. You should have gotten this rather than that fried stuff. And when you crack the lobster apart, it makes you feel so satisfied. Just listen to that snap. Ah. It gives you such an adrenalin rush, doesn’t it?” Sandra snapped a few more pieces of lobster just to further prove her point. Though Frank didn’t feel satisfied with every break she made. He felt weaker, more vulnerable. He probably felt like that dead lobster. Chills started to run up Frank’s spine and he wanted this meal to end. He quickly swallowed the rest of his food hoping that Sandra would take the hint that their meal was coming to an end.
Sandra watched Frank as he stuffed his fries down his throat and inhaled his fried haddock.
“Do you have somewhere you need to be?” Sandra asked in a slightly disappointed voice. Frank looked up at Sandra, avoiding eye contact. He was with her for five years; he knows what she looks for. He knows that she looks for that little flicker of fear. That one little flicker gives her reassurance that those walls are breaking down. Frank refused to give her that satisfaction.
“No. Well yes actually. I’m meeting up with some friends from work.” He said with a slight shiver in his voice.
Sandra looked at Frank. She knew he was lying.
“Okay. Well let me just get a doggy bag for the rest of my lobster then. Excuse me! Waitress! I need a box please!”
The waitress twirled around from the table she was currently waitressing and nodded her head.
“Okay. I’ll be right back with one.”
She returned to her customers and finished taking their drink orders. Frank noticed that the waitress didn’t have that same smile on her face. He saw that she was wearing a different smile, a fake smile. Sandra had done it once again. The waitress was on her way of throwing up walls for the rest of her life to keep herself out of harms way.
The waitress returned shortly afterwards with a box in her hand and the check in the other. She very gently packed the left over lobster bits into the box and wrapped it up in a plastic ‘thank you’ bag. She then placed the check in the middle of the table so that Frank and Sandra could fight over who was going to pay. Frank already knew who was going to pay. He reached into his pocket and took out his wallet. When he looked back up with money in his hand he came to find Sandra was already standing up and pushing her chair in.
“Well I’m off I guess. It was really nice seeing you again Frank. Let’s do this again sometime soon, okay? Maybe you could come to my beautiful house and meet my family? I think you would really enjoy my husband. You two are a lot a like. I’ll see you around.”
Frank watched as Sandra turned to leave with her to go bag swinging from her wrist. Everyone inside the restaurant watched as she left. They watched her with the same expressions as they did when she entered. Those who didn’t know Sandra envied her. Those who did know Sandra feared her. Frank, however, pitied her.