OYSTERS

Josh had made reservations for two at Eleven Madison Park, non-smoking, at a table with a view of live jazz. He meant to tell Danielle something grand tonight, which explains why he was so ceremoniously dressed in his borrowed tuxedo. When they had taken their careful seats and Josh looked around to see that everything was perfect, he suggested that they talk about their future.

“Oh, yes, Josh,” said Danielle, “I do have a wonderful news. My father said that he could help with your financial concerns. His business in Southeast Asia has seen a great year, you know, and last night on the phone he told me—and remember, I didn’t even ask—that he has enough to take care of all your debts. You know what this means, Josh?”

Yes, Josh knew what it meant. It meant that he was finally cleared of the grayish tint of reality that had always cast a shadow—not just on their relationship, but on his own sense of adequacy. He emptied the pink aperitif into his mouth, and held his girlfriend’s hands and said nothing. Shortly, the waiter brought their plate of oysters and placed it between them. Their eyes were locked as they squeezed lemons, and brought the glistening meat to their lips that ended in helpless smiles. Josh thought he had never loved her more, and wondered if he should return the modest ring he had bought a while ago, and instead get something more expensive—because tonight, their love evolved from colored gold to a princess-cut diamond.

Right that moment, Josh came to a sour discovery: that this moment he felt greater passion for Danielle than he did on the night she first confessed her love for him; that he was in love not with the graceful woman before him but with the incredible solutions that a life with her would bring, the promise of mahogany shelves and fully-owned, midnight-blue tuxedos. The revelation raised an unbearably rancid taste in his mouth.

Josh spat out the oyster on his napkin like a ball of blood and ran out of the hall. The waiters, with their professional aloofness, didn’t stir as much to turn their heads, and the incredibly talented jazz quartet did not lose its flow. Only Danielle was frozen into a crystal figurine, as the oysters spoiled slowly on the table.

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