As we entered the restaurant, the aroma of freshly made food filled my nostrils - vinegar and onions mostly - making me grin with delight as my stomach rumbled. I held the door for my wife, Christina, and with a small ‘thank you’, we were on our way.
The building was huge and I couldn’t take my eyes off of the artwork on the walls. I've always admired those, who can make such burdensome designs; they put their heart and soul into their work, unlike some artists popping out of nowhere nowadays. I tried my hand at painting, but when my flower turned out to look like a blob, I decided it wasn’t for me.
My wife got a kick out of my attempt, though. She stood beside me as I brought paintbrush to canvas and watched as I failed miserably. She laughed a little in a joking manner, but after giving her a pout with some puppy dog eyes, she took me out for ice cream to cheer me up after my disappointment.
Instead of doing art directly with paint, I have decided to do it in a way of designing buildings; I make them into the things customers want and help build them into the successful structures they are today.
She wouldn’t answer any of my questions our way here, telling me that it was a surprise and that it would be fun. It’s obvious our ideas of ‘fun’ are polar opposites; I would have been just as happy going to a pizza place where they had free games. Those kinds of places were always my favorite, but I decided to give this fancier joint a try for the sake of Christina.
“Honey, where are we going?” I asked after a minute of walking, already miserable in this area. Hushed voices surrounded us, professional cooks yelling orders to one another in the distance, and small servings when they brought the food out.
“You’ll see,” was all she said.
This was not my idea of a good birthday celebration. I wanted to go run around and enjoy life, not sit inside like an old hermit crab. Sure, I was now turning 30 and should now grow up and realize that life isn’t all fun and games, but where’s the enjoyment of that? I was living for the memories, not for the sake of living.
“I don’t want to be here,” I whined, following her along. “Can’t we go somewhere else? I can’t even see the sunlight from here.”
She shook her head. “Come on, we’re almost there.”
I surrendered with my begging and continued on anyway. Before I knew it, we had finally arrived to our reserved table, seeing our friends surrounding it.
All stood up and cheered “Happy birthday!” as we approached. I couldn’t help but let a little grin sneak onto my lips, feeling slightly bad that I had behaved so rudely towards Christina.
“Thanks, guys,” I grinned as Christina and I took our seats. “I’m not used to places like this.”
“Oh, we know,” our friend, Jill, responded with a shrug. “But we figured we’d be different this time.”
With a nod, we looked over the menus that our waitress had so kindly brought to us. Everything was different and unfamiliar, but with the help of my wife, I decided on a meal that sounded delicious, actually.
After placing our orders, we chatted and laughed about stories we forgot to tell each other the last time we had met up.
Chuckling, the waitress returned, setting our food down in front of us. With a grateful, ‘thank you, ma’am,’ I had begun eating, along with the rest of our group.
The food was mouthwateringly delicious! I couldn’t believe my tastebuds were getting a taste of this Heaven.
The waitress came rushing out of the kitchen and over to our table. With a panicked expression, she forced the bite out of my mouth and grabbed me by the shirt, her eyes as big as the moon. Mumbling under her breath, she grabs me and forces me towards the wait-staff, who were all waiting outside of the kitchen.
“We only have 6 minutes until he dies! We need to save him!” she screeches in horror. And at those words, I felt my heart skip a beat and my mouth go dry as the endless possibilities of what was to come ran through my head.
“D-Die?” I finally managed to stammer out. “What do you mean? What’s going on?”
“We’ve got some of the chicken you ordered...it’s poisoned,” the waitress’s voice was low and apologetic, which only made my anxiety worse.
“Wouldn’t I be dead by now, then?” I questioned rudely, seeing her sigh. “What? What is it?”
“No, you wouldn’t be,” she muttered. “There wasn’t enough in one serving to kill you instantly. But there is enough that it will kill you in exactly 6 minutes if we don’t hurry up and do something!”
“How do you know the exact timing?” I wondered as my life seemed to flash before my eyes. “How did you not catch this sooner?”
“We had the bad batch set aside and one of our workers accidentally took from it since he didn’t know it was poisoned,” she replied back as she rushed me into the kitchen. Christina rose from her seat and hurried back with us, fighting off any wait-staff that threatened to boot her out. “I know the exact timing because one of us back here is a mathematical geek who did the problem out for us. We knew the dose in each piece of chicken due to a health inspector coming in earlier this week.”
“Why was the bad batch not thrown out yet?” Christina demanded as she stepped in front of the waittress, who was obviously terrified of my angry wife.
“We have to wait for the health department to take care of it; we were told we’re legally not allowed to,” she bit her lip as she took a step back. “Please, sir, lay down on the table. Time is ticking!”
I obliged and let the cold, metal table touch my skin, shivering slightly as she had me straighten out. Christina stood by my side, holding my hand and squeezing it.
“It’ll be okay, sweetheart,” she cooed. “I promise it will be.”
“Don’t promise,” I whispered, seeing her frown. “Just know I love you.”
“I love you, too,” she responded.
The waitress returned with a tube that I suspected would go into my mouth; I would have to throw up the poison and hope for the best. She set is over me and as she was about to place it properly when something fell and hit me in the nose.
Grumbling, I picked up the object. It was a slender stick with writing. As I held it up, I realized it was a pregnancy test. It had two little pink lines on the screen and as I looked to the left of it for instructions, I figured out that it meant pregnant.
The tube was removed from the area and the waitress was grinning like a moron, along with my wife. As I sat up, I looked at her in disbelief and confusion.
“We’re...we’re having a baby?” I wondered out loud, my heart thumping with anticipation as visions of me being a father popped into mind.
I could see it now - I was holding a baby my arms, feeding it their bottle and cradling them just so. I’d be smiling down at them with pure joy written across my sleepy features,
whispering to them my love and admiration.
“Yes, we’re having a baby!” my wife squealed as my lips curled into a stupid smile. “I’m a month and half pregnant.”
“Oh my gosh,” I gasped as I saw my friends standing in the entrance. “This was all planned, wasn’t it? To have them say all this so you’d get to reveal this to me?”
Christina nodded and giggled childishly. “Yes, it was. I figured it would be the perfect time to tell you that we’re having a baby.”
“Although you freaked me out, it was definitely the perfect time,” I chuckled as I hugged her, rubbing the small belly bump growing. “This was the best birthday present ever.”
“I’m glad it was,” she said and with a kiss, we returned to our meal with laughter and joy filling the area. “Happy birthday, sweetheart.”