"Class," by Meredy Amyx






     Philip's fingertips lightly brushed the skin of Kristin's bare shoulder, causing her to tingle with anticipation as she followed the maitre d' to their reserved table, where candlelight glowed on creamy linen, and gleaming silver reflected the delicate pink hues of miniature roses. Above the mellow tones of a harp, the refined murmur of elegant conversation in several languages swirled around Kristin like eddies in a river, making her feel almost faint at the thrill and at the same time more alive than she had ever been. At nineteen, on the arm of a man of the world, she was crossing the boundary into a realm of polish and privilege that had never been opened to her before. Trembling, she took her seat, almost too excited to breathe.

     Overwhelmed by the excess of proprietary passion in Philip's eyes as he smiled across the table at her, Kristin looked away and cast her gaze around the crowded dining room, with its porcelain-potted vines and its gilt-framed Parisian scenes mounted on panels of rich, dark wood. Suddenly, unbidden, it occurred to her that most or all of the affluent, stylishly attired, self-assured diners grouped in smiling pairs and quartets that Saturday evening at Guillaume's to partake of the social ritual that masked the raw barbarism of tribal feeding had but an hour ago—maybe even all at the same time!—stood naked in the shower, sudsing their genitals.
     What's more, she thought, assessing the clientele now with a swift but incisive glance that had less of dazzled admiration in it and more of the cosmetician's eye for artifice, a lot of them—maybe as many as a third—had spent part of the morning vacuuming.
     In the next instant, Kristin realized that she had lost her appetite for experiencing escargots and wished they had gone out for a pizza.

Copyright © 1990 Meredy Amyx.
"Class" was completed on May 6, 1990. This story appeared in the November 2007 issue of WritersTalk, the newsletter of the South Bay Writers Club.