by Rosemary Johnson
a large glass of ordinary Italian red house wine
response to prompt for 2 January: Write a story like a recipe or set of instructions, Prompts 2021
Take one pound of strong flour, fine and soft as the sand on some far-off beach, the sort of place you speak of, although unknown to me. Add a pinch of salt, the flavour you bring into my life. Then mix in a packet of yeast, those coarse, dowdy little grains which rise in the dough like my desire.
Pour four fluid ounces of green olive oil, as innocent as is my soul, I swear. I long to take you back to Italy, to my mother and my boyhood home. I picture us walking through olive groves, as the evening sun lights up translucent leaves and shines through the strands of your flaxen hair. The juices trickle down your slender finger, nestle in the crevices of your knuckle. I press the soft fruit in the palms of my hands, firm, soft and supple as a virgin’s breasts.
Blend in milk and water. In my dreams, I see a cow graze upon rough sage in an adjoining field. Stopping to pluck just a few leaves, I milk her, six tablespoonsful of loving kindness, the sort you bestowed upon me when you first saw me, young, bewildered and alone in a strange country. Stir in water from an adjacent brook, clear and cool, babbling over white limestone pebbles.
Knead the dough, soft, warm and gooey, sticking to my hands. I dream of this still, writhing and twisting, heaving and pulling, until at last we rest in a warm place, covered for decency’s sake.
The chopped tomatoes which I spread over the dough are my embarrassment. I never got round to adding the sage. I should never have said what I said, did what I did, presumed upon what was, in reality, your good nature and ordinary friendliness. You were shocked and thrust me away. Not knowing what to do or say, I carried on cooking, adding a thick layer of grated cheese, stringy and cloying. Then for twenty minutes you roasted my pizza and me with your white-hot anger.
I don't cook anymore. I don't see the point, when there is just one sitting at the table, gazing across the red-checked cloth and two dainty carnations in a vase, at the empty chair opposite.
I still eat pizza, from cardboard packets, red and yellow, moist, hot and greasy. I fill my face to plug the void, to stoke my stomach and distract my yearning heart.
About the author
WordPress blog: https://rosemaryreaderandwriter.wordpress.com.
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