Peter twirled the pasta onto his fork. She watched him hinge his jaw open and stuff the pregnant bulge in. He chewed in such a way she couldn’t tell if he liked it. She wanted to ask him how it was, but she knew the answer. It wasn’t as nice without the mushrooms because the mushrooms gave it that added depth. This was her signature dish, the one she’d cook for her girlfriends after they’d broken up with their lovers. It was the perfect food before they indulged in servings of ice-cream ladened with cheap liquor.
Would she, one day, cook this meal (with the mushrooms) because she needed to nurse her burst heart?
Or was this it? Now that she’d altered her favourite recipe just because he made an off-handed comment about not liking mushrooms?
What she really wanted to know was did he appreciate the sacrifice she was making just to ensure the facade that she could nurture him remained intact? That she’d eliminate an integral ingredient just to please him?
Was the mushroom an analogy for the sacrifices she was making just to allow her heart to skip a beat every time he caressed her?
Grace twisted her fork so that a few delicate strands of fettuccine clung on. She missed the taste of the mushrooms. It tasted hollow.
Peter shoved another forkful in, chewed a few times, and then washed it down with beer.
Grace lifted her glass of Shiraz. It was all wrong, too heavy for a meal without its soul.