She ordered the least potent thing she could find on the menu - the most neutral - the least information.
That's all you want?
Is that going to be enough?
I’ll get two then.
He ordered a pastrami sandwich, onion rings and a Pabst blue ribbon.
She thought that was inconsiderate.
It was, at best, careless.
At its worst, his order was pathetic.
So this was his true self? The sweat of overcooked onions and sweet vinegar?
It's not like she expected much more, but she forced a smile and sipped her vodka soda and pretended like she had to run pee.
She bumped into their waitress on the way to the bathroom.
Her breasts were hard.
Her face was frozen.
So sorry about that.
Oh, I’m so sorry.
She locked the stall door and pulled out her phone: I actually do want to go out tonight. I’m not busy anymore.
She waited for a response - a way out of the evening, but received nothing.
She flushed the empty toilet and washed her hands.
When she returned to her seat, he asked her if she had any siblings.
I have one brother.
Oh, I have two.
Are you close?
We weren’t when we were younger, but now we talk sometimes.
The waitress with the ossified breasts and mulish face set her plate down in front of her.
Two white chicken breasts.
He asked for extra sauce and the waitress left.
He asked her if she wanted a bite of his sandwich.
She politely declined.
She checked her phone under the table.
A large man with thinning hair and a mohair suit jacket entered the restaurant and stood by the door
She didn’t know what compelled her to look up from her phone, but she did.
His face was red and his mouth was runtish.
He gripped a short black rope.
Her eyes followed its trail down to the floor where a wide-legged rottweiler stood panting in the doorframe.
The dog’s body moved with each breath.
His stomach would swell, sucking in air and compress when exhaling.
He was meat and pure muscle with legs thick and contoured
The sides of his body pulsated with each step he took.
It seemed like he could have been smiling.
The waitress sat the man and his dog at the table closest to the door.
The man sat, but the dog continued to stand.
He panted heavily.
You could hear him breathing from across the room.
He looked at her.
She noticed the dog’s penis and then quickly turned away.
Who brings their dog into a restaurant? He asked half jokingly.
His voice faded, drowned by the sound of the dog's hungry gasps for air.
It was all she could hear.
Maybe he has a disability? I shouldn’t judge.
She said nothing.
You’re insanely pretty by the way.
You’re really pretty.
She looked up again at the dog.
He hadn’t moved.
He could’ve just been facing in her general direction, though she felt as if she was being watched.
Oh, thank you.
There was silence.
She delicately cut off a slice of chicken, skewered it with her fork, and placed it softly in between her lips.
What's your brother like?
Her eyes darted around the room.
She tried to stare at the man across from her, but she kept wandering.
How much older?
He used to play sports, but now he works for Amtrak.
She felt around in her bag for her phone.
The dog’s eyes followed her hands.
He’s older, six years older.
That’s kinda a big age gap.
She felt the palm of her hand on the back of her phone case.
She pulled it up from her bag and held it out in front of her.
I’m sorry, I really need to head out.
Yeah my friend just went through a breakup, she needs me right now.
I’m sorry to run out on you so suddenly.
I can pay for the meal.
Don’t worry about it.
Are you sure?
It’s fine. Don’t worry.
She stood up, already slipping on her coat.
I hate to run out on you, she just really needs me.
You don’t have to explain yourself. I said it was fine.
She gathered herself and picked up her bag.
I’ll see you, okay? She grimaced.
She headed towards the door.
She was leaving.
She locked her eyes on the outside.
She could see her car parked across the street.
That was where she was going.
She was going to walk to her car and drive home or drive to the bar or to her friend’s or anywhere that wasn’t here.
She suddenly felt a rush of warmth.
It spread down her body, down her spine, into her stomach. It consumed her
Her arms went numb.
Her legs floated above the ground. Her feet detached themselves from her ankles.
Her chest expanded, exploded.
She stared at the ceiling.
She could only see out of one eye.
She was lying face up.
She was scattered across the restaurant floor.
She looked into the eyes of the dog, now hovering over her.
He breathed into her.
She heard people in the background. She heard the man. The waitress. Her date.
But she only saw the dog.
She only felt the dog.
Her blood in him, his breath in her.
Siena Foster Soltis is a writer and visual artist interested in corporeal writing, actionism, and the exhibitionism of female pain. She is a currently senior at California Institute of the Arts