A typically twisted old Write Club treasure that’s still a strange favourite of mine. I’ve tinkered a little to make it tighter (if you want the rougher original, it’s featured in the convozine, SHORT FICTION). And in light of recent rather sinister revelations, a vaguely prophetic piece too.
screaming in cages with dogs…
He liked cooking and wanted to impress her. So he invented themes – took recipes from exotic books, plundered the net to present dishes like treasure. Gastronomic baubles to tickle her tongue the way he wanted to – well, tickle. Her.
He chose strange faraway countries he knew she’d never visited. To show he could share new and exciting things, offerings. For her. A bowl of palatable desire. His. Something to get inside. Like a memory. Flick to flame in her stomach. And burn.
A month in, the system morphed. Took hold and bore him off a little. Too deep. He wanted to be authentic, his gifts needed to appear honest, ‘real’ – something that would sustain. Nurture her, the way he could. If she’d only let him.
He can’t remember why he chose it. But it certainly was traditional. True. A dish from an eastern country with usual culinary standards. Lovingly, he prepared the array of wild ingredients. For hours. Before she arrived. And she arrived – late. But he didn’t mind. Caught in the magic of mincing knives and blinding oils, he’d tossed the idea back and forth. For hours. Logic won the heavy battle: it had to be pure. Authentic. Like his love. For her. He wished to offer up the simple plate before her. If he cheated, short cut the truth, he’d displease the gods, disappoint her. Disappoint himself.
He mentioned it calmly. Not wishing to alarm her. With the news, his love. Hard to swallow. The gravitas of it all. He dimmed the lights of his clinical apartment, lit three candles between them. Steeled himself and asked, nonchalantly as nerves allow:
“Hope you like dog…”
p.s. no prizes for guessing ‘he’