The Dinner

By Robert Russell

 

        He knew he shouldn’t be nervous, and perhaps nervous wasn’t quite the best descriptor for how he was feeling, but nonetheless he couldn’t shake a strange sensation that things weren’t going to go as he thought.

They arrived to the beautiful estate. Inside his girlfriend’s parents were waiting and, upon entering, hugged and complimented their beautiful daughter, radiant in a black, chic dress. With pleasantries and hospitality, her parents welcomed him into their home. He kissed the mother’s cheek and shook the father’s hand.

        “Finally, we meet who we’ve heard so much about.”

     Hand in arm, the young couple followed the older couple down a large hall and into a dining atrium tantamount to what he imagined the inside of Buckingham palace might look like. A stiff, stuffed, lifeless dog perched on a mount in the corner immediately caught the young man’s eye. He grimaced for a second before thinking it inappropriate to remark on the poor thing.

        They sat for dinner, and cordial conversations ensued. As his girlfriend had presumed, her parents did grow a liking towards him. He had had no reason to be nervous and his love stared at him glowingly from across the table, proud of him. He glanced back at her but he could not help his eyes from drifting towards poor mutt stiffly fixated on him, appearing to follow his subtle movements. He tried not to let it bother him.

      After three courses, nearly two hours of familial indulgences, and couple glasses of wine, all anxiety had fallen to the wayside. He realized what an amazing family she had, and how lucky he was. A slight picture of his future popped up in his head which graced him with hopeful glee.      

        “Excuse me for a moment, I’m going to run to the bathroom.”

        “Its down the hall and to the left.”

        After a quick, relieving trip, he exited the bathroom and noticed an open entrance to another large room where walls were donned with Italian frescos and a massive grand piano sat in the center. He stood in awe, peering around the room when he noticed a still, pale, old woman seated in the far corner. Startled at first, he decided to wave to the woman. Staring, she did not reciprocate his gesture but instead sat cold, stiff, almost lifeless. Rather than keep his hosts and girlfriend waiting, he dismissed the odd encounter and returned to the dining room.

        He turned back into the dining room and just as he entered, his girlfriend’s father asked the room at large if dessert was in order. His daughter replied:

        “No thanks, Dad, I’m stuffed.”

        The young man stood, looked at his love, and then, in shock, at the stiff dog in the corner. Daggers shot into his eyes as he realized the horror seated in the next room over. He felt his head grow light and then an eruption in his stomach. There was no avoiding it. He vomited onto the dining room table, soaking the white dress of his girlfriend’s Mom.

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