, , , , , ,

by Marie Gethins

Of course, you ordered crab. A given since you chose this pier-side restaurant with a giant 3D model on the roof — Japanese monster movie style — claws hanging over the entrance. “Spinach quiche,” I told the waiter. You frowned. “Still into that veggie thing?” I looked through the window, watched the boats sway.

It had been years since I came down here. When we were kids, you asked Mom almost every school break for a trip to Fisherman’s Wharf. You loved the tourist crowds, shouts of chowder hawkers, smell of fish and sourdough. On open-air stands mounds of grey Dungeness crabs scuttled sideways next to steaming pots where their relatives turned red. My stomach twisted as I watched you, my big brother, feast on pallid flesh, paper cups filled to overflow.

Our waiter returned, laying out your tools: knife, silver mallet, claw cracker, Poseidon’s trident in miniature. The specimen arrived, domed shell as big as a dinner plate.

“I’m bringing in the firm’s top guy for due diligence. Any hidden assets, he’ll find them. He’s like a bloodhound.” Inserting a knife into each joint, you twisted off leg spindles, dipped them in butter, sucked meat, and stacked the cast-offs to one side.

“I don’t care about any of that,” I said.

“Don’t look at it as eight wasted years. Think of it as a fresh start.” You reached across the table and squeezed my hand.

Four fingerprints glimmered in artificial light. I wiped them away with a napkin. “It wasn’t a waste.”

“What a dick. I knew from the first time I met him. Remember? I warned you.”

“Please … just leave it …”

“And with his PA? I mean seriously.”

I traced roads in water glass condensation.

“Don’t worry, Sis. Join a gym, some Botox — you’ll be back out there in no time.” You flipped the shell over, hammered until the top and bottom came apart. Pressing against one half, the internal chambers broke with a crunch. “Hey, he hasn’t taken anything, has he?”

“No, he didn’t take any stuff.” I pushed spinach and egg around my plate.

“Locks changed this afternoon. If he comes back, he’s in for a surprise.” You speared chunks from the crab’s centre, scattering red shell debris. “We can file next week. I can’t wait to get started.”

Your words melded into a hum. I watched a pinky-white crab flake cling to your upper lip. The morsel affixed despite endless motion. I folded my napkin into a point and leaned forward. Our waiter appeared, hovered near my shoulder.

“Yes, I’m finished.” I leaned back and tossed the napkin to one side.

Marie Geth­ins’ work has fea­tured in Flash, NANO, Litro, 2014/2015 NFFD Anthologies, Wales Arts Review, and others. She won or placed in TSS, Flash500, Tethered by Letters, Drom­i­neer, The New Writer, Prick of the Spindle, and 99fiction.net. She lives in Cork, Ireland, working on an Oxford MSt in Creative Writing.