Becka kicked Harley’s leg under the table.
Harley choked down her water. “Hey!”
“Nails and sushi after school?” Becka raised her eyebrows.
Harley took a long drink of water. Pretended to snub her off.
“Hey dork. Pleeeease. I don’t want to be bored today.”
Harley softened her posture. “You know I can’t resist sushi. First to tap has to pay the bill.”
# # #
Harley parked her Volvo in front of SushiLot just in time for the dinner doors to open. She walked a slow stiff walk, careful not to damage her fresh toenail paint. “I haven’t been here before.”
“They have a bunch of authentic shit and don’t even serve soy sauce unless you request some. You’ll love it.” Becka opened the door.
They slid their shoes off at the dining entrance, then sat, kneeled, still positioning to preserve their polish.
Water, tea, miso soup, plus four plates to start. They picked at the rolls and meat slabs with their chopsticks, happily talking about friends, assignments, summer job searches, and college prep.
“Adults complain so much about work and say to enjoy our youth, but it’s like, really? You just work.” Becka sipped on her soup.
“Right? I dare them to survive one of our days. They’d either crumble or explode by third period.”
Their laughs filled the quiet restaurant.
“What else can I get for you?”
“Can we get a refresher on our tea please, and this, this, this, this, aaaand,” Becka’s finger circled around the menu, “This.”
Their waitress nodded, lowered in a slight bow, then backed and turned from the table. She returned moments later with a tea kettle. The sickly color of the steaming tea made Harley think of the last time she vomited.
Two octopus nigiri, four tobiko nigiri, a small row of something specialty, and a few slabs of salmon sashimi were delivered.
Becka bowed her head. “Arigato.”
“Kochira koso arigatou gozaimashita.” Our waitress took a few steps back, but she didn’t leave.
When Harley looked at her, she smiled, nodded, bowed, but didn’t move. “O-kay.” Harley picked up her chopsticks. “What’s this one?” She pointed at what the waitress called tobiko.
“Hmm.” Harley popped one of the octopus pieces in her mouth, then einie-meenie-miney-mo-ed which fish egg pile she was going to eat.
The octopus was extra chewy. Her teeth ground at the meat, but she wasn’t making much headway. She chewed the rice down and kept trying.
When she gripped either side of the tobiko nigiri, the eggs shuffled. She paused, stared. She squeezed a little harder, causing the rice and eggs to bulge upward. Something was rolling around inside.
“Becka, do you see this?” Harley leaned in. She had stopped chewing, left the octopus tentacle tucked in her cheek. “Look, there’s something…” She squeezed harder. An eyeball popped up from beneath the orange eggs; white, round, and rolling. The iris was dark brown, the pupil wide. Harley dropped her chopsticks and kicked back.
The tentacle came alive then, fighting the pressure of Harley’s cheek, squirming to pry open her teeth. Harley stuck her fingers in her mouth, trying to pull the thing out. She choked, spit, gagged. As soon as her jaw parted, the meat slab moved past her teeth and shot down her throat. Harley choked when it lodged itself there.
She grabbed her neck, squeezed at the bulge. Her skin burned. Her eyes ached. Her pulse pounded her head, shaking her brain in its cavity. She was already starting to black out. When Harley looked to her friend, hoping for some form of rescue, she saw Becka slurp down the last of the eyeball fish egg pieces.
The chef came from between the cloth curtains in front of the kitchen then. He held a butcher knife, and blood stained his apron.
Becka licked her fingers. “Can I have five sashimi pieces and five nigiri please? Oh and a little of her stomach twisted into a roll?”
Copyright WB Welch – All Rights Reserved
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.