A Lucky Misfortune
Words By Talim Arab, Art By Hailey Renee
“This is delicious,” stated my date, mouth filled, beautiful as ever. I never thought I could be attracted to the way someone ate til now. She’d suggested this place and told me how wonderful the menu options were. We had crossed paths at the local Sunday market; she had been selling her homemade soaps and I bought a hundred dollars’ worth as an excuse to ask for her number. Her name was Susie and she had moved here a couple months ago. A fresh face from the limited stock of women that roamed this tiny town.
Our waitress stopped by to refill our waters, avoiding any eye contact with both of us. Mostly avoiding Susie. The waitress was nervous—or I assumed so—she looked pale, as if this was her first time being a server. She stayed closer to me, acting as if Suzie wasn’t there. Had I missed something or was I just being crazy? I looked around: it was as if every worker was avoiding Susie’s gaze. It was odd. She was beautiful, and, from what she’d told me, she came here a lot.
As the meal came to an end, the waitress delivered the bill, and I handed her my card. Upon returning, she dropped fortune cookies on the table.
“Their fortune cookies are the best; they make them from scratch,” Suzie boasted. I cracked mine open: Beauty is the devil’s best tactic.
No surprise at the random and generic comment given on the tiny paper. Opening the book to retrieve my card however, I noticed a note on the receipt written in bright red ink, Please. Get home safe.
A comment like this from a server wasn’t unusual, but something felt off about it. Suzie peered over, probably wondering what I could be making such a face over.
“Oh, they write that for everyone,” she chuckled.
The multiple beers that I’d consumed during dinner seemed to be kicking in. “I need to use the bathroom before we go,” I said as I rose from my chair. Practically racing to the bathroom, I opened the door and grabbed the closest stall.
I zipped up my pants and proceeded to the sink, adjusting my collar and making sure I still looked decent. Decent enough. As I washed my hands, I noticed a fortune cookie on the corner of the counter. Pretty sure it wasn’t there when I entered, but I had been focused on making it to the toilet, so maybe I missed it? I picked it up and it was still warm to the touch: “freshly made,” I remembered. I unwrapped the still-soft cookie to retrieve the fortune, hoping it would be better than my first.
Unraveling the greasy paper to encounter the same red ink, I read,
She is not who she says she is. Don’t end up like the others.