Tomás Xavier Diaz





Tomás Xavier Díaz lives in Queens with his wife and two children. This is his fiction debut. 

Bottle of Water - A server wearing a Cleopatra necklace and what looks like an inverted sack sets a bottle of tap water in front of you. You’re too intimidated to ask for ice.


Vodka and Soda - Do you always drink vodka sodas, he asks. It’s an accusation. You decide not to tell him that vodka reacts least unfavorably to your anti-anxiety medication. Last week, at the bar where you meet all your first dates, he witnessed you ordering two of them. You didn’t want to like him because he habitually stroked his overpriced watch and rolled his eyes when you mentioned tennis, but later he made you laugh out loud four times and asked you about your mom’s cooking. Now, you again find yourself resenting him, almost as much as your tepid glass of water.


Rye Old Fashioned - As you complain to your date about your coworkers, you find yourself distracted by the block of ice in his cocktail. When did ice cubes get so big? And why? The server then brings your appetizer: a dish listed on the menu as “Tomatoes.” I ordered another vodka soda, you say. Lemme check on that, she replies.


Gamay, Beaujolais - He offers you a taste of his wine. I don’t really drink red, you say. You also hesitate at the idea of sharing a glass with him, even though you kissed him by the entrance to the L the other night. He tells you detailed stories about his travels, but so enthusiastically that he doesn’t seem to be bragging.


Nerello, Etna - When your date’s beef shoulder arrives, he requests a specific glass of wine. The server tells him that she’s just run out of it. He appears deeply disappointed by this. Then she mentions another glass that isn’t on the menu yet. This new choice excites him so much that you’re momentarily jealous of its sway over him. She pours him a taste. He puckers his notably full lips and slurps. Oh my God, he says, engaging the server with disarming eye contact. She recounts strange trivia about the wine as she fills his glass, like how the producer uses only animal-drawn tools to plant and harvest his vines. You aren’t sure how to absorb this detail; your grandparents couldn’t afford farming machines in their homeland and subsequently moved to New York to escape poverty.


Melon de Bourgogne, Muscadet - Maybe it's the mounting social pressure, but you decide to order a glass of white to go with your tilefish. It's cold in your throat and the taste reminds you of the beach in late spring when the ocean grips your toes with sharp claws. Wow, that’s nice, you say. You recount the time you were caught in a riptide while vacationing in Acapulco and how helpless you felt as the water sucked you farther and farther into its void. I’m still afraid of swimming, you tell your date, and there’s something unexpectedly intimate about unburdening this fear that’s been festering inside you. You watch the reflections of the candlelight in his dark irises. A David Bowie song you’ve never heard before plays loudly and you enjoy the sound of his lizardy voice and those hollow-sounding drums that everyone seemed to love in the 80s. You decide that you’re drunk and want to go dancing.


Amaro Nonino - The server sets a beaker of muddy liquor in front of him. You ask to see the cocktail menu.


Last Waltz - You are surprised by the comically tall stick of rosemary protruding from your glass. The drink smells like the paste your mother would rub on your chest as a child when you were sick and tastes like the candy your grandparents used to keep in a brass bowl in the center of their coffee table. He watches you closely. You don’t take a second sip. You make a joke about your anti-anxiety meds, which you immediately regret.


Bourbon Whiskey - A silence falls over the table. You both lift your phones in perfect synchronicity. In a stream of texts, your roommate commands you with increasing urgency to join her at your favorite dance club. You look up at your date’s face, now bathed in the lunar glow of his screen, and try to imagine bringing him to the club. You can't seem to picture him moving in that molten sea of perspiring bodies, plastic cup of lighter fluid booze in hand. Would he even take a sip? Would he complain about the DJ? The bathroom? For a moment you fantasize about silently tapping that familiar icon on your phone’s screen and summoning a cab. Then you imagine the forgettable ride home that would follow, with its postcard view of the night skyline. The server returns. Maybe a bourbon, he meekly asks her. She faces you and silently demands your order. But you don’t want a drink. You want to move and sweat and scream -- with him, you realize. You finally ask him, Do you like dancing? His eyes go wide. Who doesn’t, he says with a smile. It’s a good smile. You turn to the server, who grips her notepad with white knuckles. A glass of ice, you say, and the check.

© The Acentos Review 2021