"...But I Was Reminded Of..." by Ben Arzate


I sit in the diner.

I take a bite of my food.

At the next booth, a man is sitting on the table.

He has no shoes, he's dirty all over, and his hair looks like asbestos.

He rocks back and forth with a coffee mug in his hand.

The servers won't go near him.

He brought the mug in with him.

I don't think there's anything in it.

But he keeps taking sips.

My server comes up and pours me another cup of coffee.

Her cheeks are attached to her ears with hooks.

It creates an awful permanent smile.

The tables in the diner are mirrors.

I look away when I eat.

I don't like watching myself eat.

Outside, the sky is mostly clear with a few clouds.

There is a loud noise.

The sky shatters.

Blue and white fragments of firmament fall to the ground like glass shards.

Now it's dark.

I can see my reflection in the diner's windows.

I don't like so many reflections of myself.

I look around the diner.

It's pretty crowded.

But I still feel lonely.

At one table, an emaciated woman with several empty plates around her is ordering more food.

Across from her sits a morbidly obese woman eating a tiny salad.

The cook sticks his head out of the kitchen door to talk to one of the servers about something.

His skin is burned so badly that it resembles hamburger meat.

I want to leave.

I quickly finish the last of my food.

My server comes over with the check.

It's printed on the back of a photograph.

I turn it over.

The photograph is of the server naked with her legs spread.

My bill is $8.50.

I leave a 10.

The last of my money.

Outside, the pieces of glass crunch beneath my shoes like snow.

I look up.

The stars hanging in the night are arranged in a grid.

They can't form any constellations except basic shapes.

I look left and right.

The road goes for miles in both directions.

There are no other buildings except the diner.

I'm in a desert.

I don't remember how I got here.

I don't have a car.

I reach up and pluck the moon out of its place.

I flip it like a coin.

Light side, I walk left.

Dark side, I walk right.