He stands up erect as she approaches the table. She is a vision of sea breeze and morning glory; her stride, a diaphanous runway walk. Subduing a rising blush, he slides out the upholstered chair and catches a tumble of soft brown curl as she folds into her seat. What a babe!
Conversation is easy, peppered with delightful laughs in all the right places. She twinkles, like faerie dust. He suppresses a boyish guffaw.
She’s studied in France, travelled throughout Spain, and works at an NGO. Candlelight washes over her porcelain skin—his scorecard is filled.
They study the menu. She gladly follows his lead. It’s Mongolian rice, scorched rabbit with beet chips, and warm pear with mint. Sipping wine, he fingers her wrist, playing lightly with her gold chain. She worms her way, lacing her fingers in his.
It was only a few days ago that they met online. Light chit chat and playful banter. And here, now, something is beginning.
The dishes arrive, steaming. They exchange ‘Bon Appetit’.
At first, he attributes the noises to simple enjoyment. She must find the meal tasty, to her liking, he tells himself. Her chewing, chomping, slurping, gurgling, is boorish, and loud. She seems unaware. He watches her hoover the medley into her mouth, wide like a midnight truckstop. Her mandible palpates in slo-mo, lips flapping, teeth gnashing, yeast staining the relationship. Transfixed, he dangles his fork mid-air like a Calder mobile.
For relief, he shifts his gaze to the mural baked into the back wall; a sumptuous but serene garden scene. The soulful deer and her fawn graze quietly among willowy pampas grass, the play of light on the water pool fresh, and alluring.
He turns back to the beauty, as she flicks her long chameleon-like tongue to retrieve a burgundy droplet spilling at the corner of her mouth. She throws the sticky lingual out and wraps it around a tender morsel of rabbit. It disappears faster than the click of a shutter button. The crunch of bone, audible.
He wants proof. He pulls out his iphone and says, ‘CHEESE’. For Instagram, honey. She smiles demurely. A thin shiny tail whips back and forth through clenched teeth, like black licorice.
“What a Babe!” was originally published in Ellipsis Zine, Oct, 2018
Karen Schauber's work appears in sixty-five international literary magazines, journals and anthologies, including Bending Genres, Cabinet of Heed, Cease Cows, Ekphrastic Review, Fiction Southeast, New World Writing, Spelk; and a 'Best Microfiction' nomination. 'The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings' (Heritage House, 2019), her first editorial/curatorial flash fiction anthology, achieved 'Silver' in 2020 in The Miramichi Reader's ‘Very Best Book Award" for Short Fiction. Schauber curates Vancouver Flash Fiction - an online resource hub, and Miramichi Flash - a monthly flash fiction column. In her spare time, she is a seasoned family therapist.