Karen Walker | fiction | Roasted eggplant, shiitake mushrooms, and ricotta

Roasted eggplant, shiitake mushrooms, and ricotta                            

I’m the spoon, Leah’s the knife.

The spoon I’m twirling and rapping on our table, on her water glass and mine. The third spoon I’ve had since we sat down in The Sapphic Café.  Dropped the first two.

Leah is sharp. Normally, she would’ve snapped: "What the hell is wrong with you, Emma? Can’t take you anywhere." She hasn’t.  

We have a problem. Our problem is the fork, Adam. He was engaged to Leah; now I’m dating him. We’re the utensil bundles rolled in napkins on the restaurant’s tables.  

Still on the appetizers this evening. Leah got her artichoke and spinach dip half an hour ago, and hasn’t eaten much.   

I fill the quiet, the holes in her artisan bread with yapping. "How’s your dad? How’s your crazy job? The same old same old?"

She gives me three-word answers and no smile. I’m hoping for green bits between her teeth. Then I’ll tease. Then she’ll say I’m as annoying as ever. We’ll laugh.

I ordered the spring rolls and have finished one. It was tender and flaky. Flaky like I was as a college freshman. No idea why Leah, a senior and so popular, wanted me as her roommate. 

The server returns to clear the table. She asks if we’re done with the starters and if we’re ready to order the mains. No. I hide behind my menu and my rolls. 

Barricade in place, it’s time to do it. Breathe. "I’m seeing someone."

Leah plucks petals off the daisies in a vase on the table. "She loves me, she loves me not."  

"It’s nothing serious, so I, I  haven’t mentioned him. We do dinner. We never come here, though." The Sapphic Cafe is her place, our place. "Or we go to a movie, but nothing romantic. Just action hero, sci-fi."

"You hate that stuff." Leah stabs one of my spring rolls with her knife. "You never went when I wanted to go." That’s a cut I recognise.

Suddenly, she’s voracious. Bits of pastry are flying. 

"It’s Adam," I blurt. 

Leah swallows, sighs like a tire going flat. The one we had on a rainy night during a girly road trip. We held hands and waited for help until Leah said screw this. Who needs a guy?   

"I know."

Staring, I am. 

Leah waves to the server. "And I know what I want to order."

What’s she talking about? Food? "I, I don’t know what I want." 

"We’ve always liked the Vegetarian Lasagna." Leah slowly reads from Sapphic’s menu as if I’ve forgotten: roasted eggplant, shiitake mushrooms, ricotta, marinara sauce. "Or am I about to lose you to him and red meat lasagna bolognese?"

Beeper Peddle is a writer and healer living on the East Coast. She lives with her partner and their beloved soul puppy. Beeper writes about sorrows, lies, and deep loves. When you read her work, you will dip down into her heart and end up in all manner of body parts. Should you find yourself reflected in these words, it is merely coincidence; however, it does not surprise her you share the same heart. Find her at bethpeddle.com and @beeperpeddle on Twitter and Instagram

Karen Walker (she/her) writes short in a low Canadian basement. Her work is in or forthcoming in FlashBack FictionThe Bear Creek GazetteEmerge Literary JournalBullshit LitBlank Spaces, Janus Literary, Funny Pearls, and others.