Fiction First Friday: “Tendril” by Ryan Sartor
Vincent and Wendy smiled, hugged, ordered drinks and looked at menus. Frosted glass encased the dim white light above them. The acoustics of the room allowed members of each table, those seated at the bar, to speak opaquely and directly, clearly and to no one. An undercooked steak was sent back to the kitchen. A man taught his friend to tie a half-Windsor. A woman sneezed on ketchup and was brought a fresh dish. Wendy was debating steak, salad, salmon. Vincent sipped ginger beer, his cheeks filling up. The waiter arrived and each ordered steaks, Wendy and Vincent’s mouths inhaling, exhaling. They grabbed salt when the food arrived, cutting slabs, fitting them in. Afterwards, they sipped coffee, left a tip.
Vincent eschewed I-95 for the tree-lined and darkened Merritt Parkway. He parked on the roof of a shopping mall. The lobby carpet was recently vacuumed. Wendy purchased tickets at an automated kiosk. A child tipped a popcorn bag and a concessionist swept up. An usher ripped tickets and pointed to eight, one, fourteen. Vincent and Wendy sat in the middle of a row in the middle of a theatre.
Leaning against the front door, Vincent rolled his shoulder up and into its frame. A pair of cats was waiting at the top of the stairs. He showed Wendy the bathroom, the kitchen, handed her a glass of water. Upstairs, there was a second bathroom and the bedrooms of Vincent’s two roommates. The wood panel floor of his bedroom was recently swept. The corners of the room’s high ceiling held dust. He placed two fingers on the back of Wendy’s head, bringing her face toward his face.
Ryan Sartor hosts the Difficult to Name reading series in New York. His work has been published in The Bygone Bureau, The Rumpus, Punchnel’s, Drunken Boat, and elsewhere.
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