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.