A woman follows an old family recipe with surprising results
Sue hummed as she chopped carrots into exact-sized cubes and diced onions with the precision of a surgeon, feeling the tension in her neck and shoulders ease with every slice of the knife.
“This soup is extraordinary,” her mother had said before reciting the old adage about the way to a man’s heart. “Save it for a special occasion.” She had handed Sue a fragile looking recipe that appeared to be written on a sheet of papyrus.
“Like when?” Sue had asked wrinkling in her nose in disgust as she studied the list of unusual ingredients.
“You’ll know when the time is right,” her mother had responded with a wink. “Trust me.”
“But it looks so complicated. And, these ingredients…I don’t know…I can’t imagine ever cooking this.” Sue looked at the backside of the paper. “What this?”
“It’s a record of the times the recipe has been successfully prepared and the initial of the cook. See, here’s my initials…and your grandmother Thelma. And look, this was your great Aunt Rose, poor thing. It’s been a tradition to pass the recipe on to the women in our family on the eve of their marriage since the 1600’s. But, as you see by the number of entries, not everyone gets around to preparing the soup.”
Sue forced her thoughts back to the present. Folding in the last of the special ingredients, she glanced at the clock, turned the burner to simmer and covered the pot.
Over the years, she had come close to preparing the recipe for Stan three or four times, but always changed her mind after reviewing the list of ingredients. What could be a more appropriate occasion than on our fifth anniversary, she thought stepping into the steamy enclosure of the shower.
She closed her eyes and relished the feel of hot water cascading over her body. Her skin tingled not only from the loofah she was using but also from thinking about the way Stan sent shivers down her spine and made her heart race every time she looked into his chocolate brown eyes lately.
Lathering her belly with soft gentle strokes, she said, “Won’t he be surprised?” She smiled, visualizing the adorable dark haired baby girl with chocolate brown eyes growing inside her. “Someday the recipe will be all yours.”
By the time Sue stepped out of the shower, the soup’s aroma had penetrated the air. Inhaling deeply, she realized she had not felt this wonderful in ages, as if the vapors from the divine soup had powers to cure all ills, mental and physical.
She dried her hair and artfully applied make-up before dressing in the red silk teddy and matching thong she bought that morning from Victoria’s Secret.
After lighting the last of the fifty some odd candles she had scattered throughout the apartment, she heard a key turn in the lock. Flipping off the lights, she put one hand behind her head and another on her hips, and leaned against the door jamb that lead to the kitchen lifting her right leg slightly and resting it on her left calf, hoping she looked like one of the models in the Playboy Magazines that Stan loved to read.
“Whoa, sexy lady,” Stan gasped catching sight of her, blinking his eyes rapidly as if seeing something that couldn’t possibly exist. “If I’d known I was coming home to this, I’d been here hours ago. Sorry I’m late again.”
Sue licked her lips, fluttered her lashes and smiled. “It’s okay. How was your day?” She tried to imitate the sultry voice of Mae West.
“It pretty much sucked…up until now.” He grabbed her roughly and kissed her hard and deep. When he came up for air, he sniffed. “Something smells delicious.” Suddenly he stepped back and furrowed his brow. “Damn, I’ve forgotten some special occasion haven’t I?”
Sue nodded slightly.
“I’m so sorry, don’t be mad. I’ll make it up to you,” Stan whispered, nibbling on her neck. “What’s the occasion?”
“Don’t worry about it,” she replied, taking him by the hand and leading him to the kitchen. “Come, sit down.”
She dished up the soup and placed the bowl on the table in front of him. Stepping behind his chair, she began to massage his shoulders.
“This is heavenly,” he said.
Sue wasn’t sure if he meant the soup or the massage, but replied, “I’m glad you like it.” She tried to laugh seductively while gently biting the top of his ear.
He took a few more spoonfuls before saying, “Sue, I’m sorry for the way I’ve treated you. I don’t deserve someone as wonderful and beautiful as you, but I’m going to change. I promise. No more drugs. And I’m so sorry about hitting you again yesterday. I feel awful about that. It’ll never happen again. That’s another promise. God, this soup is the best thing I’ve ever tasted. I love you, Sue.”
She stopped as if frozen in time. A single tear ran down her cheek. After five years, he’d finally said the words she’d longed to hear.
Smiling, he turned in his chair reaching toward her. Before he could take her in his arms, his eyes rolled up in his head. Clutching his chest, he fell from the chair to the floor.
Sue picked up the recipe card, turned it over, dated and initialed the back, before placing it between the pages of her seldom-used cookbook.
“Looks like Mom knew what she was talking about,” she whispered kneeling over Stan’s prone body, gently closing his eyelids, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”
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|Reviewed by Joyce Scarbrough
|Loved this, Jane. But could you post the recipe? ;-)|
|Reviewed by Beau Fincher
|This piece is great! Well written and I loved the twist; completely unexpected.|