2017
FLASH FICTION CONTEST
Second Place
$100 Award

SCHADENFREUDE

by S.R. Larin

The tomato, full, red, and ripe, squats on the kitchen counter, its curves straining to contain its luscious flesh and delicate seeds. It slips perfectly into my palm, fragrant with promise for my lunch with Margaux. I could squish its secrets free, so proud it is to bursting. Or I could roll it onto the cutting board and reveal its inward face with the near-soundless snick of the vegetable knife. No less fatal, perhaps, but subtler, allowing for some semblance of dignity to emerge from the dissection.

The salad greens—arugula, escarole, romaine— mound the bowl, ready to cushion the tomato’s swelled self-importance as I pause to set the luncheon table, one place for Margaux, one for me. We will talk, she and I, catch up, take turns vying to outdo one another with our latest accomplishments, mine fading into vinaigrette- sluiced silence while hers tingle the tongue, drizzled with eloquence. I place fine-tined forks, gleaming in stainless steel, beside the white china, ready to be raised to our lips, mine ever quirked in concern, hers ever smiling, at times tremulously, yes, yet ever courageously, in light of her one long-past yet ever-present tragic pain I can never match. Because of that I will, of course, refuse to indulge myself in response to her luxurious home, her delightful family, her wonderful work, her affirming awards by squashing her thin-skinned pride in a verbal vice, her carefully curated persona oozing out shapeless and helpless for all to see.

No, a simple slice of the tongue, barely noticeable until it’s complete, enough to cut to the chase yet leave her all unexpectedly face to face with herself. That will do. And as the doorbell rings, I glimpse Margaux at the windowed door, perfectly coiffed and bouquet in hand, feel the knife make its slice, watch the watery scarlet stain spread across the cutting board, feel it suffuse my own cheeks.

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S. R. Larin is a Canadian writer with four sons and four cats, and although she holds graduate degrees in English/Literary Theory and Creative Writing, her genre kryptonite remains science fiction. She currently teaches college-level writing part- time and enjoys hiking, reading, and editing. This is her first published flash fiction.