Flash fiction by Jim Meirose
She sat in the yellow wallpapered kitchen, talking. She was finishing making a point.
—and a lot more than just that—if you spend enough time with me—spend enough time with me, and you will be the better man for it.
He nodded at her thoughtfully, with head tilted.
But come on, she said—let’s have supper.
She went to the stove and spooned a plateful of food from a large silver pot. She put the plate before him. A small cloud of grey haze set on the plate.
What is this?
Food, she said.
Food? What kind of food is this? It—it doesn’t seem as though I can see it.
Never mind that. Just eat.
Nodding again, he thrust his fork into the general haze that was the food. He pulled out the fork. A bit of the haze clung to the fork. He licked at it.
It’s nothing, he said. But it’s something. What is this?
She tapped her fingers on the edge of the table.
Try it, she said. Put it in your mouth.
He thrust the forkful of haze into his mouth and started chewing.
I can’t chew it, he said. It’s—it’s nothing. There’s nothing in my mouth—
Oh yes there is, she said, pointing at his plateful of haze. A bit of that is in your mouth—what, can’t you see it there on your plate? There, look, she said, her chair scraping back over the linoleum—I just saw you swallow. There was food in your mouth.
No, there wasn’t—but—but what is this stuff?
He pulled another forkful of haze from the plate, and put it in his mouth.
It’s—it’s nothing, he said with mouth full.
No, she said—don’t—don’t talk—
Why not? He said, jabbing the fork toward her.
You shouldn’t talk with your mouth full, she said—you should just eat. Like—like this—
She thrust her finger into the food and a bit came out on her fingertip. She licked it off into her mouth and held her finger up.
It’s like heaven, she said—
Abruptly pausing, she leaned forward and smashed her fist down on the table.
—so eat the God damned food, will you! she snapped, eyes blazing.
The plate jumped. The haze jumped. He jumped.
Her lip trembled as she stared at him. He spoke softly.
All right, he said—all right. If it’s that important to you, I’ll eat the food.
And as she stared at him with a piercing look, he ate fork after fork of the food off the plate until the plate was bare.
Well? she asked as he put down his fork on the empty plate. What did you think?
Good. It was good.
Well, she said, scratching at her face—I’m glad you appreciated it.
I did. I truly did appreciate it.
The food. From that pot.
She rose and went to the stove and looked in the pot, then at him.
This pot’s empty, she said. What food are you referring to?
The food you just forced me to eat—
You know what? she asked.
You’re an idiot.
He winced as if clubbed; and she laughed at him, holding her stomach and pointing. And with every peal of laughter he grew smaller and smaller until he was gone like the food. She stood in the kitchen laughing and when she calmed down, she sat alone in the chair again and once more began finishing making her point, as she had been doing before any of this happened.
Jim Meirose (Somerville ,New Jersey)