By Jessica Klimesh
On the south side of town, an assemblage of picky eaters walks into a large restaurant with a small menu. Ominous. They psst, psst to each other. Are we sure we should eat here? Oh, just relax. Their stomachs rumble with hunger. They decide to stay. A new experience. We don’t get out much. Yes, restaurants are always so problematic, aren’t they? After they’re seated, the water poured, they all smile up at the server, a young man with a fresh smile and patient eyes. The first picky eater says, “What do you have in white?” The server thinks it’s a joke at first, but the picky eaters aren’t laughing. The server says, “Well, we have sides of cottage cheese or cauliflower. Perhaps you’d like some parsnips?” After pondering such limited choices, the first picky eater says, “Come back to me.” The server is only too happy to move on. But then the second picky eater says, “What do you have in a shade of red?” The third picky eater wants yellow food; the fourth, turquoise. And on and on. Bewildered, the server raises his eyebrows at this troublesome gaggle of adherents before him. But no amount of hmphing or sighing makes a difference. The picky eaters continue on like this for hours, their indecision betraying their hunger. Come back to me. Come back to me. The server’s smile fades with the evening light, and a full moon appears in the sky like an unassuming chandelier, and then the sun comes up again. Finally, the exhausted server has taken the orders of all the picky eaters. But the restaurant has not yet reopened for the day. No chefs or line cooks have clocked in. “I’m sorry, but you’ll have to wait,” the server says. “That’s no problem,” the first picky eater says, “but today I feel like something purple. Can I change my order?” And the second picky eater says, “Yes, today I’d like something green.” The third, pink; the fourth, gray.
And on and on.
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Jessica Klimesh (she/her) is a US-based writer and editor whose creative work—mostly flash and microfiction—has appeared or is forthcoming in Cleaver, trampset, Atticus Review, HAD, Whale Road Review, Bending Genres, and Ghost Parachute, among others. She is currently working on a collection of linked flash stories. Learn more at jessicaklimesh.com. Twitter: @JEK_Writer