I prepare the barley and beans knowing I won’t consume them. Knowing this isn’t the meal I crave.
Every tale begins and ends with hunger. A barren couple yearns for a child. A witch thirsts for revenge. A prince salivates at the thought of a damsel. A girl learns the world wants to gobble up any object deemed beautiful. Her yellow tresses, like spun gold, equate worth. Locked in a tower she aches for companionship, and when that doesn’t quell her hunger, when the girl refuses to make herself smaller only to be devoured by someone else’s storyline, she seeks no one beyond herself.
I want to stop. Or so I tell myself as I set the table for one. Golden filigree shimmers on the porcelain plate. I lay the knife and both forks in their proper places. I hum to myself as I twist and turn the brittle flowers, years dead, in their glass vase. Each night is the same ritual to create the perfect setting. The perfect meal.
Is it better to be consumed or to consume?
I take my seat at the head of the table. Reach for the severed, choppy ends, stretch them across the plate, the filigree swallowed by their vibrancy.
There is something about consuming the part of you everyone always coveted.
I lift the knife, skipping over the dinner fork for the carving fork. I cannot stop. My nostrils perk up at the aroma of lilac and nutmeg, the combination I use with my daily bath. I cut into the hair then, my own golden locks, the utensils scraping against porcelain. My tongue presses against my teeth, eager for another taste. I tell myself I want to stop. I cut another piece and bring it to my mouth.
Christina Rosso is a writer and bookstore owner living in South Philadelphia with her bearded husband and rescue pup. She is the author of SHE IS A BEAST (APEP Publications, 2020), a chapbook of feminist fairy tales. Her first full-length collection CREOLE CONJURE is forthcoming from Maudlin House. Her writing has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, and the Pushcart Prize. For more information, visit http://christina-rosso.com or find her on Twitter @Rosso_Christina.
Artwork: Caryn Drexl, remains of the day 2