Warning: contains mature themes
Lynnea cooks for three today.
The smell of spices make her nose all stuffy, and she coughs phlegmatically, wiping off the layer of sweat on her face with a dishcloth.
She pours in the oil to heat, wiping her slippery hands on her hair, tied neatly into a tight, painful bun.
She would rather be solving the crossword in the newspaper out on the lawn, legs crossed comfortably, the grass still wet underneath her.
Or she could be sitting on the couch, leaning back and letting the cool air from outside fan her body, and watching television, where everyone seemed to get everything she had ever wanted.
Instead, she is forced to do the one thing she hates the most: cooking.
Lynnea must admit, however, that this gives her the perfect opportunity to do what she has always wanted.
She smiles to herself as she adds the vegetables, a loud satisfying sizzle followed by the whole kitchen getting engulfed in smoke.
Vigorously coughing as water runs from her reddened eyes, she knows that this torture is the only way to get what she wants.
Getting her neighbour Gina and her husband Cecil in the same room.
To reveal that she has known all along, and to ask them why they didn’t call her.
She imagined pushing down plates on the table, steaming hot food flying out and burning their skin to the bone.
Then eating it off them, bit by bit until they regretted not inviting her.
Taking each plate and breaking it on their heads, each piece embedded into their bodies.
Asking Gina to stop pulling at her top for Cecil to see, because she could see it too.
Confronting them about what they were doing behind her back, knowing exactly but wanting to hear it directly from them.
Then surprising them and herself by asking if she could join too.
She would say it all today.
They would stare at each other’s bodies until their food became cold and irrelevant, and they would touch each other until they had become satisfied.
They would feel each other’s hearts beat in time with the other, and they would finally be one.
Yes, she resolved that they would do it all this time.
“So Lynnea, what are your plans for today?” asks Gina, gravy dripping out of her mouth.
Overtaken by an urge to lick it off her face, Lynnea purses her lips painfully to control herself, and says, “Nothing much, just some crossword maybe, and some television.”
Cecil looks at Lynnea as she says this, and looks back at Gina, their eyes exchanging a secret judgement, almost as if they now feel better about what they were doing with each other.
Gina pulls at her top, and both Cecil and Lynnea lick their lips involuntarily, overtaken by a desire to run their hands over her, though they are ignorant of the other.
The emotions inside them threaten to burst from the cages of their bodies, and they yearn to feel each other.
But instead, they just eat in silence, the clang of forks the only thing heard, even though their hearts are beating louder.
Cecil and Gina glance at Lynnea constantly, trying to gauge whether she knows anything about them.
But she just swallows her food slowly, savouring the bitter taste in her mouth, the tang of jealousy mixed with the burnt vegetables.
She wonders why they haven’t thrown the plates in fury yet.
She’s almost anticipating it, knowing exactly what she will say when they do.
She will say that the taste of the food was what her mouth tasted of every time she saw them together.
She will say that they should eat it, that they should feel what she felt every day.
She will not mean a word of it, because she’s not jealous that they’re together.
She’s jealous because she’s not with them too.
But Gina and Cecil don’t seem like they are even slightly put off by the food.
They all know that the food is terrible, almost inedible.
Still, they push it down their throats, maybe to make up for what they were doing to each other without telling her.
“And your plans, Gina?” asks Lynnea, wanting to start talking so that she can bring in the most important topic to the conversation.
“I’ve got an appointment later with a special friend of mine if you know what I mean,” she says, winking through her laughter, her straight hair falling on her face.
Cecil almost looks doubtful, but one glance from Gina satisfies him, confirming that he indeed is the person being referred to.
Lynnea laughs weakly, almost crying.
She wants to tell them.
She wants to drop her fork on her plate, and stand up, rattling the glasses and staining the faded tablecloth.
She wants to say that she knows about what is going on between them, she knows it all.
She knows about the secretive glances and the touching and the moaning.
She knows about the kissing and the biting and the panting.
She saw them once.
She hadn’t alerted them of her presence then, she had just stood there and watched.
She had touched herself, made herself hot, just imagining herself being there.
She wants now to make her presence known.
But she still sits there, filling her mouth with the blackened food, inhaling the spices and feeling her nose become stuffy again.
Gina likes the food. She likes the smoky taste, the feel of it sliding down her throat, the lack of salt, the burn. She wishes she could cook like this at her house, but she knows that her husband would not approve of it.
Maybe she could come over here more often, just to eat Lynnea’s food.
She looks at Lynnea, suddenly wanting to wipe off the blackened food from her mouth with her tongue.
Gina’s fingers twitch, but she doesn’t act on her thoughts.
Lynnea is ignorant of this display of emotion.
She is still thinking about the right time to broach the subject.
She is thinking about the perfect string of words to wipe their smirks off in a second.
But she keeps silent.
She doesn’t want to ruin this time that they have together.
But she wants to ruin it, in the best way possible.
As they say their goodbyes, Lynnea and Cecil kissing Gina on each cheek, Gina notices how Lynnea’s kiss lingers, how her breath fans her ear, how her hands touch her longer than needed.
Cecil offers to walk her to her house across the street.
Gina smiles at Lynnea before leaving, a secret hidden in the curve of her lips.
Lynnea shuts the door and leans on it, waiting for her heart to stop pumping so hard, waiting for the knot in her stomach to stop furling and unfurling, waiting for her thighs to stop shaking in anticipation, waiting for the saliva to stop forming in her mouth.
She opens the curtains slightly, only to see Cecil and Gina’s lips on each other, their hands roaming carelessly, their bodies woven tightly together, their clothes being torn off in her backyard.
And just like the other day, Lynnea wipes off the drool forming on the corner of her lips, and just watches them, fascinated.
Almost as if she knows, Gina’s eyes open and look at Lynnea through the glass.
She lets Cecil kiss her neck and pushes her hair back, and just smiles that same smile.
Lynnea feels a shiver up her spine, a thrill at the fact that she is now in on her secret.