Table for Two

Jim Atchison had sworn it wouldn't happen again. And Jim Atchison wasn't a promise breaking kind of guy. Last year was an anomaly. Well, on his end at least. While he'd promised it wouldn't be anything like last year, he sat at the restaurant's table hoping Federico's Tocco agreed to the same demands. Being his wife's favorite restaurant made it mind meltingly difficult to not complain about the issues Jim always seemed to have at the establishment.

"Oh my, I could drool," Margaret gasped. She sat across from Jim dressed in a blue sparkled dress. Her shoulder straps were thin, lipstick a thick deep red and hoop earrings large enough they could be bracelets.

The waiter in the black three-piece suit set their meals before them. Angel hair with chicken and cherries for him and blushing penne pasta for her. With a brief bow and standard comment about enjoying their meal, the waiter disappeared.

It was when Jim went to take his first bite that he saw it. The glitch. The same damn glitch from last year. His dried cherries flickered from their natural color of dark burgundy to hot pink and a few times bright purple. At one point each cherry on the plate turned white with a grey question mark overlaying.

He couldn't help himself, without his active consent his hand threw his fork down in disgust as his wife shoveled penne in her mouth.

"Dammit!" He grabbed the folded napkin laying across his lap and slammed it on the table. "Waiter!"

Margaret began shaking her head. "Jim, are you kidding me? Again, with this...?" She dropped her fork as well, disgusted at something other than her meal. "It's just the cherries, don't eat them. Weird mix anyway."

Jim's eyes darted toward Margaret. "Taste of Home says nutmeg and cherries are the new 'it' pairing--never mind." He scoffed and looked around in panic for the waiter. "Where is this damn wa--"

The waiter appeared at the table, arms open, ready to be of assistance.

"Sir, what can--"

"Explain this to me." Jim pointed at his glitching meal. "How is it an entire year later and you still have the same issue."

The waiter studied the plate and registered the complaint.

"Ah, my deepest apologies, sir. It appears the dish is still running under the 9.3 Operating System. I can perform a system update for you right now," the waiter said as he pulled out a computer tablet from his apron.

Jim crossed his arms and furrowed his brow while staring daggers at the waiter. His foot tapped impatiently underneath the table. Across the way, Margaret had resumed eating her meal while shaking her head.

"Alright, sir. It's updating." A revolving circle appeared on the dish instead of the pasta which previously occupied it. "It will be finished in about thirty minutes."

Jim sat mouth agape. "Thirty minutes? Is this a joke? That's it, I'm done!"

He reached up and lifted the goggles from his head. Next to him in bed, his wife lifted hers right after.

"Jim, what the hell. There goes dinner! Again!"

"Me? The damn restaurant can't get it together!"

"Whatever. Happy anniversary." She grabbed her headset and tapped through the settings. "I'm running the couch program."

Jim sighed loudly. He'd failed once again. His headset began beeping and he begrudgingly placed it over his eyes.

He was on the couch in the living room, a knitted blanket spread across his legs and torso. With another heavy sigh, he laid down and accepted his fate. Next year, he was picking the restaurant.

Margaret wasn't thinking about next year. She was breathing calmly with her goggles over her eyes. Alone in bed. She couldn't think of a better way to spend their anniversary after such a night. It was becoming a tradition--one she could get used to. With a deep exhale, she spread out on the empty bed and closed her eyes.

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