The Menu

in The Ink Well7 months ago (edited)


For the third time, the waitress came to the table. Trying to hide her impatience she questioned the young woman once more.

"Ready to order, Madam?" The waitress' teeth tapped together on every syllable.

The strange clicking reminded the customer of a talking skeleton and she covered her mouth in a suppressed giggle.

"Sorry, I'm still not sure. Everything looks so tempting. Can I take a look at the video reviews again?"

"Certainly." tap-tap-tap went the teeth of the server.

The customer snorted slightly as the waitress walked away to retrieve the video monitor. Staring after her, she wondered if the waitress was trying to hold dentures in. She tapped against her own strong teeth and said a small prayer of gratitude that she had been born with a strong set of choppers. Some things in this life were simply the luck of the draw - like her teeth, or the color of her natural hair. Other things could be purchased, if you had the money. Thanks to the recent demise of her great-uncle Shayne, the hermit-hoarder, she now had the money.

It was enough money for one item at Chez Choice.

The tippity-tap of her teeth matched the clickety clack of her clogs as the waitress returned to the table.

"I'll stand by, in case you have questions," crooned the older woman. She had a feeling if she didn't prod this one, she would be here all night. "You just scroll on the screen and click on the live video feed of someone who has opted for that choice." She leaned over and clicked the first option that appeared.

A woman dressed head to toe in the finest fashion of the season lit up the screen. She had jewels draped, nails manicured, hair coiffed, and was the epitome of alluring. "This one is high-fashion. You can see how the elegance suits her."

The customer could see that easily. However, though the woman radiated beauty, she also had a sour expression. This woman looked like a high class model, but did not seem at all pleased with her choice.

"I don't think that's the one," the customer shook her head, brows furrowed. "Maybe another one." She scrolled to the next screen and touch the glass of the video display.

The waitress piped up, "That one is wealth." A man in a business suit was sitting in a private jet. He was surrounded by computers and monitors and devices - each one displaying charts and tables of his money. He seemed to be under immense amounts of stress. With one hand he was balancing two separate phones, and with the other hand he was madly rubbing the temples of his head.

"All that wealth, and doesn't seem to enjoy it. No, no, I don't think I want that option," the customer shook her head again, chewing her lip in mild frustration.

The waitress and customer scrolled together, right to left. The customer scrutinized each person on the screen, befuddled by the disconnect between what they had versus how they felt. None of the former customers seemed to have any satisfaction with the choices they had ordered from the menu. The young woman would have thought that everyone would have left content, but it seemed that none of the options they had purchased had brought what was intended.

"As you can see," the waitress interrupted,"our clients have gotten exactly what they paid for. Fashion, Wealth, Health, Fame, Power, Security, Recognition... our customers have made their selection and we have provided it in full."

The young customer was about to question further, but the next screen halted the conversation.

"Wait. This one! Let me check this one out!" The customer's heart raced. There was something different about this video preview. The woman displayed was not particularly healthy. She definitely didn't have any special fashion sense. She seemed to be living in a tent on a campsite somewhere. She was cooking her meal over the fire - what seemed to be a freshly caught fish. Humming a sweet tune, she smiled broadly. The sky was blue and bright, with deep gray clouds approaching from the west, but the woman seemed oblivious to the stormy weather. Her eyes glowed with an inner peace and joy that was infectious.

"If you slide the screen again, you'll find -" the waitress spoke up.

"No, don't move it! This one. I'm trying to figure out what it is about her. It's clearly not any of the things we've seen so far, but I can't stop thinking that I have to have what she's got!"

The waitress scrunched up her nose a bit and looked at the code on the bottom. "This one? Not the sachet of wealth? Not the elixir of fashion? Not the vial of power? THIS one?"

The customer paused. She had to think carefully. The only thing that was guaranteed was the actual item ordered from the menu. If you chose power, you didn't necessarily get fame. If you chose fame, you didn't necessarily get wealth. This woman on the screen didn't seem to have much at all. On the contrary, she seemed to have a difficult life but the expression on her face was more attractive than all the other choices combined. Yes, this was the one!

"This is it. I'll take what she's ordered, please."

"Fine. That order will be right out." The waitress turned to the swinging doors and called beyond them. "Pierre, that will be a simple cup of HAPPINESS to Table 35, please!"

This has been an entry for @theinkwell's Weekly Prompt #61. I will be certain to come visit more of my fellow authors tonight and tomorrow. I hope you enjoyed this entry.

Image by Ketut Subiyanto


Oh my oh my oh my!!! I chuckled so much reading the opening paragraphs...those tippity taps of the teeth and the interplay between customer and waitress had me lolling. And you drew me in because I could picture the scene and I was thinking... that poor waitress... how exasperating to have a customer like that! hahaha... And then you brought it...from humour you switched to divine complexity and life choices. Of course she chose happiness in the end. Nothing in life is guaranteed and all the other options were choices that one could only hope would lead to happiness...but if we can set happiness as our foundation, and build from there... well then...

An inspired story @stormcharmer. The customer here chose very well indeed. I loved it.

The teeth also had me laughing. I found myself trying to talk while clicking my teeth. I laughed a lot! 😅

I agree. If only happiness could be purchased, I would be standing in line. Thank you for the visit

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One suspects that when this young lady receives her order, she will no longer be comparing waitresses, or anyone else, to talking skeletons. One suspects that with this very wise order, the young lady will regard those around her with greater benevolence.

What a clever story. So well told. In a way, a twist on the classic 'three wishes'. Be careful what you wish for...

Your description of the characters is entertaining and vivid. You capture the voice of the customer: naive, critical and determined. You do a wonderful job with both the prompt and the targeted skill.

Thank you for sharing this most original story with us and thank you for supporting your fellow authors.

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Your exceptionally well structured tale allows us to examine the vacuous gratification man achieves in the pursuit of the most commonly desired objectives; the things money can buy. In the real world money can’t buy the only thing that really matters, happiness. But, oh, what a joyous world it would be if there was an option to order it for a menu. Imaginative, beautifully fleshed out characters and charmingly related. You have a fabulous talent. ❤️🤗💕🤗🤗❤️

The use of words were waoo. Nice write up

What a clever and beautifully written story, @stormcharmer. I want what she’s having! 😁

Wow, great story
Happiness is definitely incomparable

Aha, I had a feeling that it was the right choice. An interesting and creative way to frame this age old idea!

Thank you for using the #scholarandscribe tag 🙂!