Eroded by Jordan Puckett

They were in an Italian restaurant for their anniversary. It was dark in there and the walls were cracked. The top half was checkered, black and white. The bottom was brick. It was supposed to look like the brick had fallen off in places, but it didn’t. It was too clean. Too neat.

“This place is nice,” the man said.

“It’s okay,” the woman said.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“Nothing. It’s nothing. It’s nice.”

“You said okay.”

“I meant nice.”

“You don’t like it. We can go somewhere else.”

“It’s fine. What are you ordering?”

“I haven’t decided.”

There was a black couple sitting at the table across from them. They were talking in low voices. The girl sucked in her cheeks every time the boy talked.

A waitress in a black apron came to the table.

“Can I start you with some drinks?”

“Yes, We’ll have a bottle of the corte giara,” the man said.

“You have to drive home,” the woman said.

“I won’t drink much.”

“Yes you will.”

“I’ll be fine. One bottle please.”

“And to eat?” the waitress said.

“I’ll have the vongole veraci,” the woman said.

“And you sir?”

“I haven’t decided yet.”

“Take your time.” She walked away.

They were quiet for a time. The man looked over the menu. Why was it in Italian? And it was dark in there. It was hard to see.

“That’s a funny wall,” the woman said.

“Yes it is.”

“It’s like it’s… I don’t know. What’s the word?”

“Broken?”

“Eroded. That’s what it is. Eroded. Don’t you think it looks eroded?”

“I think it looks broken.”

“No. Eroded. It’s funny how it looks better after being eroded.”

“It’s not real. It’s not eroded.”
“Yes but it looks like it. Have an imagination.”

The black girl got up from the table across from them. She was crying. Her date leaned back. He looked tired. He closed his eyes for a long time.

“Diana made a pass at me at work today.”

“I warned you about her. What did you say?”

“That I’m married.”

The woman nodded. “Yes you are.”

“And that I love you.”

“And I love you.”

“I really do love you.”

“I heard you.”

“Are you mad?”

“Why would I be mad?”

“Because Diana made a pass at me.”

“I know. It’s okay. You didn’t do anything.”

“Because I love you.”

“I know.”

The waitress came back. She put two glasses and the bottle of chardonnay on the table.”Have you made up your mind yet, sir?”

“Not quite.”

“Take your time.” She left.        

“This is a nice place,” the woman said.        

“I thought it was okay.”

“I changed my mind. It’s nice. I like the walls.”       

The black girl came back to the table. She sat down and folded her arms. They didn’t speak.        

“You’re really not mad?”        

“I told you, I’m not mad.”        

“But I wanted to.”        

“You wanted to what?”        

“With Diana. I wanted to.”        

She didn’t say anything. She looked past him at the wall. The wall that looked like it was eroded, but wasn’t.        

“I’m sorry I wanted to.”        

“It’s fine.”        

“But I am. I’m sorry.”        

The black girl across from them stood up and put on her coat. She said something to her date and left. The black man put his head in his hands and kept it there for a long time. When he lifted it back up, his cheeks were wet.        

The waitress came back. She put a plate of pasta in front of the woman. “Have you decided yet?” she said to the man.        

“No.”        

She walked away.        

The man looked at the woman while she looked at the wall behind him.        

“I’m not hungry anymore,” she said.        

“Why not?”        

“I’m just not.”        

“I’m sorry.”        

“Why? That I’m not hungry?”        

“No. That I wanted to with Diana.”        

“That’s not why I’m not hungry.”        

“I’m still sorry.”        

“I don’t care about it. It’s fine. You didn’t.”        

“I don’t know why I wanted to. I love you.”        

“That’s nice of you.”        

“I’m sorry.”        

“Stop.”        

“Maybe it’s because we don’t anymore.”        

“Please don’t.”        

“But we do sometimes and it’s good.”        

She laughed. She didn’t know why.        

“I’m sorry.”        

“Stop talking.”        

They were quiet for a while. The black man got up and left. The waitress came back and asked if the man was ready to order yet and he said no, so she left.        

“Are you ever going to order?”       

“I don’t know what I want.”        

“Eat mine. I’m not hungry anymore. I’m thirsty.”        

She pushed her plate to him while he poured her a glass of the carte giarta. She drank it all before she sat the glass back on the table.        

“I think you were right about the wall,” the man said. “It looks eroded.”        

“No, I was wrong. I think it’s broken. And that’s okay.”        

She reached for the bottle of chardonnay and poured herself another glass.

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About the Author

Jordan is a student at The Ohio State University, majoring in English. He is currently working on his first novel, while already planning several more. He hopes to become a college professor until he can fully support himself on writing alone.