Invisible Animals

They had been sitting at the table for half a goddamn hour and no one had come to take their order. He was getting hungrier and angrier, looking around at the other tables where diners were laughing, joking and eating, and was incensed by the implication that these people were somehow more deserving. This was a classy place – had they been deemed not good enough?

“It’s like we don’t exist,” said his wife of twenty years. Twenty years today in fact.

“What are we, invisible?!” he said loudly as a waitress passed, not appearing to be tending to anything in particular. Then, to his wife: “Maybe we should just go in there and get our own food.”

He had not meant for the remark to be taken seriously, but her eyes widened, and it made him think it might impress her. Surprise her. Twenty years it had been – he liked the idea that he might still be able to surprise her.

He pushed his chair back and stood. “Right then.”

She followed him across the restaurant. He was already rehearsing his explosion, the exact words he would use when the staff questioned his sudden presence in their kitchen. He imagined them trying to calm him down, how he would storm out. How they would pick up a takeaway on the way home and have vigorous sex on the sofa, fuelled by the sheer righteousness of it all.

But when he pushed through the double doors and into the kitchen, neither the chefs nor the kitchen porters looked up from what they were doing, and as he collected an empty plate no one batted an eyelid. Growing bolder, he started to load the plate, helping himself to handfuls of food, burning his fingers as he picked up sizzling steaks and fistfuls of chips.

After completing a circuit of the kitchen, he had collected an obscene amount of food, a heap piled high on the plate. The two of them tucked in, shovelling it with their hands, devouring with an appetite they hadn’t shared in years.

When they were finished, he said: “Watch this.”

Then held the plate in one hand and casually let go. It fell and smashed on the floor. They both laughed. No one else seemed to notice.

“Maybe we should have dessert right here,” she told him, grabbing the front of his shirt in her greasy grasp, pulling him towards her.


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