Artichoke, Lettuce and Mayo

 

“I can’t do this anymore.” I let my carving knife fall to the floor. “Do you know how exhausting this is?”

“What is?” Your eyes, beautiful. Like two deep bowls of gravy.

“Pretending that I’m not in love with you.”

 

I don’t even know how we arrived at this point, you and I. I have always needed so much. Attention. Care. Smiles. Answers. Answers more than anything. And food.

 

I found carrots. I found steak and worcester sauce and mushrooms. I found different types of pasta. I learned that potatoes never float and that different oils have different boiling points and that, for the love of god, don’t be scared of salt. I found double heavy cream and real butter. I found non-stick pans and the best recipe for pizza dough. I learned how to crack an egg with one hand and which season produced the nicest onions. I found food.

 

And I found you. When I bought my own restaurant you came with it. That first year, beloved, I hated you. You seemed to bring me the best produce at the worst of times. I couldn’t cook everything. There was never enough time. And people? People are cruel. It doesn’t matter if I did my best. People would never like my carrot and strawberry stew. People would never enjoy my pizza with artichokes, mayo and lettuce. Of course I knew this. You didn’t have to tell me.

 

I wanted to invent something new, I wanted to find that revolutionary spark and run with it. But maybe I shouldn’t have done trial and error with several thousand dollars in the balance. I didn’t care. I wanted to figure it out. Taste, smell, sight, touch. Stomachs.

 

You, a simple food runner, decided to teach me, the chef. I hated it. Your most resistant student. More Darth Vader than dutiful padawan.

 

You taught me to roast garlic. To grill the perfect medium rare burger. When I wanted to serve fries with risotto, you wouldn’t let me. You wouldn’t even let me eat it myself. You didn’t care that I thought that herring completes any lasagne or that liquorice smoothie should be on every menu. You didn’t care that every fermented snail I wanted to boil was organic.

 

And I’m the weird one.

 

At times I likened you to leprosy. You bound my arms, my mind. You made me blind in the kitchen.

 

And then you made me blind in other places. It was probably instinct. We’re human after all. We need food and air. We developed a nose to breathe and to smell. Taste buds to taste. Sweet, sour, bitter, umami. But humans have other needs to. I had known about that, in theory. But I had been too obsessed with finding the perfect sweet potato I hadn’t cared for anything else.

 

But then you kissed me. Beautiful idiot you called me. Crazy, crazy woman. And “What have you done to me?”

 

To you, I wondered. I didn’t know I had done anything to you. It had never even occurred to me that two women could share a kiss like that one. I thought you were the one who had changed everything. You had kissed me. Not the other way around. I was innocent as a summer potato. Small. Fresh. You were more like a devilled egg, maybe innocent on the outside, but strangely spicy and aromatic inside. A stable on any buffet table. You had taught me that.

 

The first time you took me to bed, I felt like I had gone out of the frying pan and into the fire. My skin bubbled and cracked, like pork belly in the oven, every time you touched me. But instead of cooking, it felt like every time you nipped at my skin, the more raw I got. Not just my skin but on the inside. My lungs and my brain and my heart. I had thought my organs ran on glucose and fat. I was wrong. My fuel consisted on one stubborn and patient food runner.

 

That led us to this day. I had been wrong, I realised that now. Carrots works best in carrot cake, not chocolate cake and you can’t make meringue out of whipped barracuda. You were right, I was wrong. I’m ready to admit that now.

 

I shed off my apron and my big white puffy hat that I had once thought I was entitled to. I had nothing left. If you wanted me to sell my restaurant, I would. Everything I am… is and was yours.

 

“I don’t want to talk anymore.” The words are out of my mouth before I can stop them. It doesn’t matter. Not anymore. All words are said. I don’t have any left. “I don’t want to be alone anymore either.” I let my carving knife fall to the floor. There is nothing left of me. “Do you know how exhausting this is?”

“What is?” Your eyes are empty, like the sky.

“Pretending that I’m not in love with you.”


Author note: Don’t ask. 😛

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