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.

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.