A/N: This is a story with horror+gore, even though it doesn't seem like it at first. You have been warned.
Scotty Williams never had the best table manners. It’s not like he could help it, his mouth was almost always covered in sores, so he had to slurp at his food to avoid touching his open wounds. We’ve known each other since grade school so I’m basically used to it. Funnily enough, I used to be convinced that Scotty’s mouth got like that because he ate soap. That was way back when we were kids. Apparently I was pretty obsessed with the idea of Scotty eating soap, and I’d run around telling on him to any teacher that’d listen. But I barely remember the incident now, even though my parents still joke about it every now and then.
Now that I’m old enough to understand, I feel pretty bad for the guy. I must've seemed like such a jerk back then.
Still though, I prefer not to look in his direction while he ate. Both because of the mess and also because I don’t want to be rude. He used to be quite sensitive about people looking at his mouth. My wife though, treats Scotty as if there’s nothing different about him. She’s amazing like that. The three of us go way back, but I’d say Scotty and my wife are closer. They’re the sort of friends that just gravitate towards each other, knocking elbows and sharing inside jokes.
I prodded at my pasta — lukewarm, because hot food wasn’t very compatible with Scotty’s condition — and chewed on a piece of tomato absentmindedly. I feel like I was forgetting something. That feeling of an empty space in my mind where a memory is supposed to be is bothering me. I can’t help but come back to it every now and then, the way a kid runs their tongue over the space where a baby tooth used to be. Maybe it’s because I’m in denial of getting old or something.
I’ve always had a bad memory. Even as a kid, things just slip from my mind and never come back. It got bad enough that my parents had to bring me to countless doctors’ appointments just to confirm there was nothing wrong with me. They didn’t manage to find anything, so I guess it’s just the way I am.
I shoveled another bite of pasta into my mouth. Amanda was a fantastic cook. She was good at basically everything, to the point that I had to wonder why she picked me. Across the table, Amanda laughed at something Jenny was saying before looking over at me. She had one of those 50s movie-star smiles. A slight smile of my own curled at the corner of my mouth. Guess I’m just a lucky bastard then. She was wearing a new dress for tonight's dinner, a dark red one with sleeves. She also had a new bracelet to match the dress. A gold chain with some red gems. I don't remember getting it for her. But then again, bad memory. Maybe I'll ask about it later. She doesn't usually wear jewelry, so she must really like this one. Maybe I'll get her something from the same brand for our upcoming anniversary.
I picked up the bun before taking a bite. As I chewed, my mind flicked back to that empty gap in my memory. It was a task, that was the only thing I know. I only remember the vague shape of a promise to myself, that I’d get something done today because it was important. Apparently not important enough for me to remember what it was.
I'm pretty sure I wrote it down somewhere. A yellow sticky note with my uneven handwriting in red pen. I’d taped it somewhere that I could spot easily. I usually put notes in my pockets, but this one, I distinctively remember getting some tape and — oh yeah, I put it on my computer at work. Work, so it was something I had to do for work — Oh. Well damn. That was it. I’d promised Cameron that I’ll finish proofreading the code before sending it over to him by tonight. Fuck. We were running on a tight schedule for this project, so I probably have to drop by the office tonight to finish everything.
I stood up awkwardly. Everyone looked over at me quizzically. I cleared my throat, “Something came up at work. So I uh, gotta go. Sorry everyone.”
Amanda looked at me with one of those ‘not again’ looks in her eyes. Having been married for over a decade, she’s long gotten used to my shenanigans. She got up too, to walk me to the door. Along the way, her eyes caught Jenny's. There was an indecipherable question in Jenny's gaze. Jenny's husband, Darren, just snickered and shook his head.
As I was putting on my coat, I tried to explain what happened but Amanda was having none of it. She just sighed and asked: “When will you be back?”
“It’ll probably be an all-nighter.”
“Text me okay?”
I wrapped the scarf around my neck and leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. “Okay. See ya honey.”
Amanda smiled and wriggled her fingers in a wave. Her new bracelet caught the light spilling from the dining room. “Bye.”