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"Bon Appétit" by Grace Black



Wednesday. A day. Not unlike the middle class and its acceptance of subpar success. A perfectly overlooked day in the strictest sense. Hump day. I’m picking at my cuticles, sipping Bordeaux, and shunning suburbia’s sun. Daydreaming. I’ve always wanted to visit Paris. I know, a pitiable American turn of phrase, but nonetheless true. I have no kids to eat away at my excess brain matter because I loathe tiny humans. They stare, doe-eyed, questioning everything. My surplus energy expended, instead, on droll pastimes no one appreciates.


You gave me Julia Child’s cookbook for our first wedding anniversary as a gag gift because “I burnt toast better than a bachelor.” You’d laugh each time you retold the story. But you ate the charred, carbon-infused substance because you’d eat anything. I read the book. I’d read almost anything: science journals, erotic fiction, sociopathic profiles. I spent weeks learning to crack the perfect egg with no broken bits of shell or slime clinging beneath neat, manicured fingernails, deftness in the wrist, and a clean break. Then, months to poach one. My indefatigable need to succeed proved Julia to be a liar. “The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.” I imagined her high-pitched trill inside my head. When I mastered those two things, I began to feel a transitory sense of accomplishment. 


I’m now sovereign over a delectable chicken breast, basil, cashew nut pâté. Not an actual foie gras, you feel force-feeding a little goose, shoving corn down its throat via a feeding tube to fatten its tiny liver, is cruel. I find it tasty. But you like my version. Sautéing shallots until translucent, the scent alone draws you into the kitchen. 


You press your nose in the crook of my neck. “God, you smell delicious.”


“It’s the onions for the pâté.”


“I hate onions.”


“Well, they’re shallots, more specifically.”


“They look like onions.”


“Forget about the onions.” I lower my voice, and you kiss me. It’s a peckish kiss, and I know I need to feed you before your blood sugar drops. We haven’t had sex in weeks.


Sheila comes for dinner. Midweek and her heart’s been broken again. But she has Jesus and designer handbags full of cash. Not to mention, she’s part owner of your start-up company. A start-up for start-ups or some other such nonsense. She’s invested all over town. Figures are looking splendid. But honestly, I can’t empathize. She’s my bestie. In suburban speak, it’s the fake friendship you can tolerate the most and participate in the least. We all sit to eat. 


French wine poured—you don’t drink it, opting for piss-label beer instead—I sip and dream of Provence. Your mouth used to make love to craft brews, then me. Sheila drinks my wine and produces an oral orgasm as she forks each mouthful of my pâté. We watch her, you in awe, and me with congealed contempt. You swig back your beer—it’s your “superpower,” you joke—and go to grab another. Your humor has changed, too. You fail to insert wit and have choked the life out of irony. I see it all. I watch Sheila’s large mouth and each indecent movement it makes as she babbles on, some inane drivel neither of us cares to hear. I nod and sip my wine as her best faux-friend. 


Another week, I’m sautéing shallots, daydreaming of the French countryside. You’re not home, so it’s lonely as I slice the liver into quarter-inch segments. With each slash of the knife, a metronomic scraping, I realize I’m humming “La Vie En Rose.”


We sit to eat.


“You’re late.” You don’t respond. I smile and pass the pâté. “I also have Boeuf Bourguignon, Julia’s recipe, but it’s still in the oven. I butchered all day. Hope you brought your appetite.”


You smear the pâté on a toast point and chew like a machine, all gears and shafts, pistoning and pumping. “Mmm . . . tastes different,” you mutter with your mouth full. Bits of detritus food cower in the corners of your too-full mouth.


I sip my wine and smile. “I omitted the onions. I know you don’t care for them.”


“Hm.” You continue to shovel the perfectly toasted triangles into your mouth, piled high with smeared liver spread. 


“My passport arrived today.”


“Great, babe.”


“I booked a flight to Paris.”


“Hmm.”


“I leave on Friday.”


“Mmhmm.” You’re fully invested in what’s on TV.


I nod. 


You hear nothing I say. You don’t listen, but I do. 


I listened. I heard every moan Sheila made, spilling from her obscene mouth as you showered with her last Tuesday. You said you were going to fix her bathroom pipes. I needed you to get the mixer down from above the fridge. Guess you didn’t hear me enter her home, the bathroom, or the accidental air I choked on. Then Wednesday, she came to dinner and drank my wine as if she hadn’t screwed my husband in her shower the day before. 


No remorse.


Sheila didn’t need the extra cash she carries, and I took the Hermès as a parting gift to myself. It’ll make an excellent carry-on for my trip. 


A commercial is on, so you glance back. “Aren’t you going to eat, babe?” 


“I’ve lost my appetite.” I bite a hangnail, sip my wine, and contemplate my French excursion.


You smile and sip your beer, a microbrew, as if you knew this was a celebration. “Hmm, too bad, it’s delicious. Killer pâté tonight.”


That’s the funniest thing you’ve muttered in months, and I laugh. Out loud. “Yes, I know. You always thought Sheila was rather delicious.”


You swallow, and I watch recognition bloom in your eyes. Beads of sweat form at your temple like glossy bikes lining up for the Tour de France. My bet’s on the third from the left to win the race down your forehead. 


“Always knew you were fucking crazy.” You sputter and begin to choke.


I smile. The rest of your side dish is in the oven.




Grace Black mingles with words as she navigates this realm. A writer of poetry and flash fiction, she gravitates toward brevity. She is the founding editor of Ink In Thirds. Various journals and anthologies have published her work, including Maudlin House, Unbroken, Eunoia Review, Into the Void, Pidgeonholes, and Haiku Journal. Find her at  https://graceblackink.com/

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