The Cafe Irreal: International Imagination 

Issue Seventeen

Selections from The Coconut Ape by Tomáš Přidal
The First Day of School by Steven Schutzman
The Fever by Gleyvis Coro
Reflecting Dreams by Peter Roberts
A Meal by Anca Szilagyi
Minor Renovations by Sean Adams
The Clafouti Syndrome by Adam Benforado
The Train by Alta Ifland
Viewing by David Zerby


irreal (re)views


A Meal
by Anca Szilagyi

The waiter, in a white-tailed jacket, stooped over the lady (truly, a lady, with porcelain skin, delicately lacquered lips, a hat arranged just-so).

"Good evening, madam. Would you like to see our specials for tonight?" One palm resting in the other, wrists limp and fingers clenched. She looked at him through the netted veil across her eyes.

"Why ye-es. Please."

The waiter nodded and left in his stooped posture. In the corner of the restaurant, beside enormous ferns, a musician played the crystalline goblets. The waiter returned lickety-split, behind a squeaky-wheeled cart. Atop the cart sat an array of colorful orbs, translucent blues and reds and little tiny shades of green speckled with gray.

"Tonight's specials include a rack of lamb (he gestured to a red orb), a steak tartar (the blue), and a wonderful side dish of carciofes-a-la-malaise." The woman arched one carefully drawn brow, eyeing the display.

"I'll have the tartar with a side of the malaise."

"Very good, madam," said the waiter with a bow. A wisp of hair draped over his bare head came loose. He swept it back and wheeled away the cart.

Soon after, a four-foot bus boy brought water and a carafe of wine and a two-foot waiter carried the lady's meal on a tray held aloft, his arms outstretched directly above his head.

"Enjoy," he implored in a nasal voice.

The lady deliberated over which utensils would best fit her meal, as twenty forks, knives, spoons, and other implements of various design, size, shine, and rust were laid out before her.

The neatly manicured hands (burgundy nails) lifted up the steak and took a bite. The brittle orb collapsed in her mouth and she crunched on the shards. She noted the delectable way in which the blood formed in her mouth, a warm gush contrasting the cool of the glass. A red trickle down her delicate chin, then another down the other side. From afar, the stooped bald waiter caught her eye and pointed delicately to his own chin. She gave him the slightest nod of gratitude, dabbing it just-so.

Anca Szilagyi has a BA in English literature and archaeology from McGill University. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in The Antigonish Review, Scrivener Creative Review, Hotel, Montage, Stationaery, Southern Ocean Review (New Zealand), and on She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.

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