I can’t explain why I keep going out with Nick, except that it’s cheaper than cable TV and just as fascinating. On the way out of restaurants, Nick always drops a filled out comment card. Not the feedback cards they give you. No, that’s not enough for Nick. He made his own, for every type of service, that he brings folded up in his black leather wallet. In dining there are three main categories: service, ambience and food. He scores the whole experience.
While we’re waiting for the check, I ask, “Why don’t you leave yelp reviews instead?”
“I don’t want them to feel like I’m airing their faults to the world,” he says. They were short one ravioli, and he can’t let it go. “I just want them to be better.” He cups his hand around my face and says sweetly, “Wouldn’t you want to know if you had spinach in your teeth?”
I tongue my best-known food traps.
“Exactly,” he says.
There’s this sick part of me that’s always watching people, that always wants to know what happens next. And when I look at Nick with the white button down I rumpled, I can’t tell if he’s the sort to obsessively research sex until he’s an expert, or if his focus would be on the service he received. Either way, I came prepared.
After he starts snoring, I fish out the bright red comment card I made, click my pen and score him one to ten in a number of categories. Hygiene, safety, performance, overall satisfaction. He wants to know if there’s spinach in his teeth, right?
As the door shuts behind me, I imagine him barrel-rolling over. Pawing for my body and hitting a corner of my comment card. A poke instead of smooth skin. I bet it tastes like medicinal cherry. I bet he chokes as it goes down.
Chelsea Stickle is the author of the flash fiction chapbooks Everything’s Changing (Thirty West Publishing, 2023) and Breaking Points (Black Lawrence Press, 2021). Her stories appear in Passages North, The Citron Review, Peatsmoke Journal, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and others. Her micros have been selected for Best Microfiction 2021, the Wigleaf Top 50 in 2022 and the Wigleaf Longlist in 2023. She lives in Annapolis, MD with her black rabbit George and a forest of houseplants. Read more at chelseastickle.com.