Like Shit on a Cracker by Claire Guyton

Like a fine Merlot. That’s what he said; that’s what he called me. And that wasn’t enough to put me off.

When a man says you’re like a fine Merlot and still you get in his car, make small talk about the famed restaurant where he reserved a table in the back, let him take your hand as you glide through the parking lot… you sort of have to say, yeah, I asked for it.

Like an apple in autumn, the blush in my cheeks. My eagerness at the menu—sure, I pointed; I love crab—like a schoolgirl on prom night. My smile like a cool slice of melon in August.

Like a script, I thought.

Like butterfly wings, my dress; like the shade of a weeping willow, my eyes.

Yeah, like a bad script; like a man fond of his own voice; like a date from the 1950s.

I reached for the actual Merlot, drank the whole glass down.

A bit like a black-hat with his shot glass, he says like it’s funny; but also like a woman who takes what she wants, mmmm, but then again like a kid with a lollipop—too impatient not to bite.

Look, too many damn similes, I said, I did; I called him on it. But he just smiled.

Like a spoiled teenager at her tiara party, he said then; like a little girl who takes the head off her chocolate Easter bunny.

I said really, how about like a frat boy who thinks he owns the world because his daddy gives him too much money; like a quarterback who always calls the wrong play in the last two minutes of the game?

When a man pulls his mouth tight and slams his glass on the tabletop and you don’t get up while the wine’s still sloshing and toss your linen dinner napkin, then stalk through the flickering votives, lobster tail, unobtrusive string quartet, triple-decker dessert cart… then you have to accept that you wanted this fight. You chose that volume, that heat.

Like a slit-eyed cat mewling for more cream, he said, his face as red as the wine; like a used up old bitch having a flashback–and that dress? Like a hooker late on a slow night and behind on her rent.

I slapped aside the vase of flowers between us and pointed at his face. Like a teacher who bullies the fat kid, like a preacher who screws the flower lady, like the Senator with a little intern problem, like a cop all hopped up on bullets, like a dictator with fake medals across his chest; LIKE MY FATHER.

 When you go from a kiss as velvet plum as a fine merlot to seeing your father’s rage hurled at you across the crab bisque with corn kernels and chives…. That’s when you push, you push hard, for something, anything original, anything to End Scene.

 Like a cracked tooth, I whisper. Cracked right down to the bone.


Claire Guyton is a Maine writer and editor. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in many literary journals, including CrazyhorseMid-American ReviewRiver StyxAtticus Review, and Jellyfish Review. She has been a Maine Arts Commission Literary Fellow, and holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Find more of her work here