Short Story – Perfecting Pasta

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It was her first meal since she had left.  A bag of crisps, bar of chocolate apart.  Just a packet from the co-op.  She had some cheese to grate on top, a little black pepper and a plastic tub of some kind of tomato sauce that she had basketed before the tears came.  Again.

The cashier was just a kid, probably doing his weekend job to earn some money for a Saturday night out.  He looked at her, a question formed on his lips, but then he passed the contents by the reader.

Saturday night out.  Would she ever want to go out again?  At the moment?  No.

Feeling the tears pricking once again she reached for the scissors, clipped the top of the pasta pocket and poured in half the packet.

A splash made her look – the water was cold.  She hadn’t turned the hob on.  With a distant half smile at her distraction and a closer welling up once again, she tipped the lot into the colander, then, what the hell.  Into the bin.

She didn’t want to eat.  There were the dregs of the last bottle of white in the fridge, and a few crackers.  It would be enough.

She had thought that this time it would be for real.  Relationships had flared in the past, but too quickly been extinguished, like a faulty firework in November.  But not with him.  It was stronger.

She took a deep breath, opened the fridge door and as she was reaching for the wine, her phone rang.

She froze, hand in the cold inside, reaching for the chillier bottle.  A second ring.  A third.  Fourth.  Then nothing.  The mobile had already gone to answer machine.  She shook herself, walked ever quicker to the other room in her tiny flat.  The phone was by her bed.  Picking it up, the notification was clear.  ‘You have one new message.’

Her fingers fluttered as she sought the touchscreen.  Finally, after seconds lasting hours, she located her messages.  ‘You have one new message’ the voice teased.  Then, no further sound.

With a sudden fury, she threw the phone to the bed, seeing it bounce twice before settling on its stomach.

‘No.’   This break up would not destroy her like all the others.  Angry with him, with herself, with everything, she stormed back to the kitchenette.  Refilled the saucepan, grated angrily at the cheese as it came slowly to the boil, each downward push at the soft cheddar causing her to exhale like a Wimbledon expert.  The last thrust caught her fingers, making her gasp louder, and higher in pitch.

She threw the remaining pasta in, popped the sauce bucket and banged it into the microwave.

She reached again into the fridge.  More wine than she remembered, and poured the last, large glass, waiting for the final drip to join its brothers.

She and the pasta softened.  She poured the sauce on top, sprinkled some cheese and grabbed her wine and a fork.

She sat on the sofa, legs tucked underneath, and stabbed the twirls, dipping them in cheesy tomato.  But she stabbed calmly now, with resolution, each push of the fork breaking the remaining threads of her sorrow.

Fork halfway to her mouth, the phone rang once more.  She froze.  Once, twice it rang.  She smiled, and pushed the pasta to her mouth.

 

By A B Peters

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