The headache Alice had been trying to suppress turned out not to care about whether or not it was wanted. After the interview, she was plagued with a burning, palpitating pain in the head, from the back of the skull all the way up to the top of her head.
After leaving the office, she immediately made her way to L'Étoile, one of the restaurants near the Rilex Internationals' Headquarters. Her driver put on his favourite song, which she knew word for word by now. It was agonizing to hear it with a headache like this, but she reckoned that she just had to deal with it, as it was only a ten-minute drive.
"Thank you, Mr. Lewis," Alice greeted, as she got out of the car. Her uber-driver nodded respectfully and drove away, only to return again when Alice had had enough and was ready to go home.
She turned to face the restaurant. The name was written in curly, lightened letters above the entrance. Underneath, also shining brightly, were five golden stars, indicating the restaurant's exquisite quality in food. It was her favourite place to dine and by now she had automatically a place reserved on her name at Friday evenings.

When she walked in, Alice was greeted by the excited employees. Each of them bore a smile that almost looked real. Pearly white grins never faded off of their faces, which made Alice feel more annoyed than pleased. With their white blouses tucked in their black pants, held up by a belt, and their feet stuck in shiny black shoes, they danced like figure skaters through the tables, bringing some drinks here and some food there. The men wore bow ties and the women were allowed to keep the upper button open, showing just their thin, sharp collar bones but left the rest to the imagination of the wealthy customers.
The smell of luxurious food and lavendel came to welcome her when she walked through the wardrobe to the front desk. Almost immediately someone of the staff came running down, meeting her with a bright smile. It was a tiny girl, probably just out of her puberty. She had her hair in a loose bun and her wide, genuine smile revealed that she probably just started working here, or had a lot of perseverance when it came to her trust in humanity.
"Miss Richmond, we have your table ready!" she chimed, her voice as sweet and tingling as bells on an early Christmas morning. I despised her already.
I nodded curtly and followed her. As I walked after her to my table, I noticed the edge of her blouse was sticking out of her pants. It was a small detail, a small flaw in the perfectness that the restaurant strived for. I was dissatisfied, as I always was when small imperfections occurred. Did I not strive for the very best?
The girl brought me to my table and handed me the menu before I could even sit down.
"Or will it be the usual?" she asked me with raised eyebrows. I shook my head as I took the menu from her hands, a little rougher than I had intended to. I decided it did not matter.
"I wish to look first, thank you very much," I said, already feeling my annoyance rise with the new young adolescent. "I do like to have a bottle of red wine."
"On my way, Miss!" the girl sang. She darted off towards the bar and I had to suppress the urge to massage my temples.
I opened the menu and looked at it like I didn't know every single thing that was on the card already by heart. My eyes followed the letters and read it all again whilst I tried to decide whether or not I indeed should choose my usual choice: Australian Short Rib, dressed in Worcester sauce and with roseval potatoes and vegetables at the side. It was a dish I looked forward to every week, as I only ate once at L'Étoile. Even after a while, it did not bore.
But I did not feel like it tonight. Maybe it was the change of waitress, or the fact that her blouse had not been tucked all the way in her pants, but she felt off. Perhaps it was just the weekly downer and it just happened to be on the night she went out for food or perhaps it was something else, but she did not want her steak tonight.

That is when the waitress came back with her bottle of wine, I handed her back the menu with a polite smile and said: "I would like to have the Carrot-Ricotta Quiche, please."
The girl eagerly wrote it down on a piece of paper, nodding as if agreed with my choice.
"On my way, Miss!" she said again, before running off to tell the kitchen staff what I wanted. I watched her go. Her blouse was not tucked into her pants yet.
I poured the wine and decided that I would have the whole bottle tonight.

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