The Table Talk
by Yashi

“She blinked!”

“Yeah, so, she has a right to blink.”  I called back.

“But she isn’t alive—she’s dead, right?  Or, or, damn it she’s just sculpture right?”

“What are you talking about?”  I was in the kitchen putting the finish touches on dinner.  My guests were wandering around the house, Jim was in the bathroom and Tiff was sitting on the couch.  She was staring at my coffee table.

“There, there she did it again!”

Jim almost ran out of the bathroom zipping up as he walked.

“What the hell are you talking about Tiff?  Who blinked?”

“The girl in the coffee table!”

“Oh, her,” he slowed down.  “She’s a sculpture, she can’t blink.”  He peered down at the table.  “She does look real, maybe she’s a hologram.”

Wiping my hands on a towel, I walked over to see what they were talking about.  Of course I knew, I loved it when people who had never seen her came to visit.  The coffee table was over six feet long and consisted of a block of clear plastic mounted in a wood frame that stood on for turned legs.  Imbedded in the block was a girl or more correctly a nude woman bound hand and foot.  The cuffs and chain connecting them was clearly visible.  Right now she was resting face up, but by pulling a latch the top could be pivoted so you could see her back.

“Wow, she is nearly perfect,” Tiff exclaimed as she bent close to the surface to get a better view.  “She looks alive, you can see ever blond hair through the plastic.  Who is she and who made the sculpture?”

“I did.  I took an image and put it in a computer-controlled router.  The router cut the image out of the block of Lexan.  Not a big deal.”

“Gee, I didn’t know you could do anything like this.”

“Let me show you something.  She doesn’t like to watch us eating if she can’t.”  I reached down, hit the hidden switch, and gave the top a slow push.  Easily and silently, the top rotated to so you could see her back.  It was clear her hands were cuffed behind back; the plastic seemed to flow around every detail.

“How do you know, what she likes.”  Jim asked, “You talk about her as if she were alive.”

“To me she is—her name is Gail.”

I started laying out the wine, cheese, and crackers.  They kept looking at me as if I were going nuts.  Soon we were sitting around watching a football game and chatting our jobs.  I was the plant manager and Jim was head of sales.  Tiff worked in a real estate office downtown.  At halftime the timer went off and dinner was ready.  Tiff asked if there was anything, she could do to help.  At first I said no, but she insisted and I had her set the table.  Everything was ready and I started to carry the food to the table.  Tiff nearly finished setting the table when I brought the first dish out.

“Tiff?  You’ve set only three places — there are four of us.”

“Who is the fourth?  Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t realize your girlfriend wasn’t here yet.”

I shook my head, “But she is here.”

With a look of total confusion Tiff looked around the room.  Finally she asked, “Are you ok?”

“Why?  Dinner is served.”

“There are three of us.  I don’t see anyone else here.”

“What about Gail?”

“Gail—she’s just an image in the table.  You talk about here as if she were alive, and we both know she isn’t.”

“Oh my god, when did she die, I better check her!”  I gave her a grin and a wink.

“JIM,” Tiff yelled, “he’s losing it!”

When Jim entered the kitchen, I was calmly slicing the roast.

“What, Tiff?”

“He keeps claiming Gail is alive.”

Jim just looked from one of us to the other.

“So what, I’m hungry.”

With the table set and food ready, I said, “Let’s get Gail so she can join us.”

Tiff just stood there with her hands on her hips staring at me.  I motioned to her with my finger.  Reluctantly she followed me into the living room—Jim trailed along behind.  I strode to the table and hit the latch on the table again.  Another push and “Gail” rotated into the face up position again.  I pulled a magnetic key out of my pocket and ran it along the corner of the table until I heard a faint click.  I pulled up on the corner and the top opened like a casket.  I pulled the bar gag from her mouth.

“Hi lover,” Gail smiled up at me, “dinner ready?”

“Yes,” I helped her sit up.  Suddenly there was a thump behind me.  Tiff had fainted.