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The Ratio of Silence
by Kate Ellis

Eating was always a tell for women, but for men—real ones anyway— it was just another thing to do.

Maria Ortiz kept her gaze steady on a couple two booths down, a fifty something man with a twentyish blonde. He was sopping a piece of toast into the remainder of an egg yolk while the woman pretended to eat. Not in the way real girls pretended. A human girl would have nicked a few of the cheese cubes from the top of that salad, or at least picked at the croutons as she loudly rejected the dressing. But this girl’s croutons remained in place, a stale halo atop the leaves, and her eyes never once strayed to the temptation.

The botties had brought so little change. Men were still unashamedly showing off hourglass trophies, while women paid the same amount for bottie companions—more sometimes—and still settled for schlubby Teddy bear models. Out of shame, was it? she wondered. To keep from looking demanding?

There’d been that woman she’d seen in Westwood last year, attractive but clearly past her last fuckable day in those parts, dining with some balding facsimile, an early model from the somewhat stilted motion. Maria ha marveled at the incongruity, and then marveled some more as the woman looked about before dumping his untouched chili fries into a container in her purse. Leaving them would give up the game that he wasn’t real. It’d be like dropping a vibrator from your handbag in the middle of a crowded supermarket.

If it came to that, Maria thought, she wouldn’t settle. She’d order herself an Omar Sharif and parade him around on the goddamned beach.

“Dr. Ortiz. Is everything all right?”

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