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Dear Diary,


I think I’m dead. Nothing scares me, nothing delights me, nothing makes me scream or laugh or clap or smile. A swarm of deadly hornets could descend down and cover me with their poisonous kisses and I’d just give each and every one a blank-eyed look. Well, no, I lie - I do enjoy eating. My pudgy belly betrays me. She is full of everything all the time, salami and banana nut muffins and salads-from-a-bag, baby carrots and salt-and-vinegar chips, Reese’s peanut butter cups and pale flavorless white bread. Not much of it is tasty or nutritious, but what does that matter? The act itself is heaven, chewing chewing chewing, crunching down, sucking through, letting  it all melt on the tongue and dissolve in the throat, drop down to the gullet like a hug from the inside. Oh yes, I do love eating. But besides that, what is there? People are boring, red-cheeked disappointments walking around laughing at the same things their parents and grandparents laughed at, hating each other, saying nasty and false things to whoever will listen. I don’t understand them and they don’t understand me. I don’t like dances or parties or coffee shop dates, not really, I pretend I do so they won’t think me bizarre and cast me out completely. One must maintain at least an air of normalcy if they are to survive. But I don’t like watching sports and I certainly don’t like playing them, movie theaters make my head hurt, books are boring, I’m no good at painting or poetry or violin, and I’ve never been to the theater but I’m sure it’s not for me. What else is there? I can’t even say I hate these things, I just feel absolutely nothing towards them. Every hour I’m alive I spend counting down to my next meal.There is nothing else to look forward to, nothing to want, and I don’t really think anything can change that. 


Dear Diary,

I lied, I lied! There is something out there, something so beautiful and pure that even granite mountains and steel beams would melt beneath its grace, its splendor, its sunshine and radiative joy. Clara! That is her name, as I found out today, and she is the first person I’ve ever fallen in love with. She’s new to the office, started just last week, though I hadn’t seen her til now-- they hid her in the back, next to the HR cubicles, desperate to stifle her magnificent glow so as to not embarrass the other, cloudy, hunchbacked, stale office employees. 


We met at the water cooler, so it seems that ours is fated to be a classic corporate romance. I don’t even remember what I said, some corny little joke, but I do remember the laugh of hers that followed, a most lovely tinkling sound, a tin bell ringing clear and true. I will do whatever it takes to make her laugh like that again. 


Dear Diary,

I’ve never been one to miss meals, to forget to eat, to say “No, thank you, I’m too full.” But I’ve also never been in love before, and my God, does love change a person! Even thinking of Clara ties my stomach in horrible knots, shoots electricity through my guts, dries my tongue and makes my hands too unsteady to even hold a fork. She walked by my desk today, swift and composed as an antelope bounding through the savannah, and I was far too shy to say hello. My hour lunch break followed soon after, I spent its entirety trying to slow my heart rate and steady my breathing. The pasta I brought remained cold and untouched in its tupperware. 


The hour lunch break is my only chance to talk to her. Boss is vigilant as an eagle, and he doesn’t like us workers mingling on personal business during company time. But for that one hour, we are free to do as we please, talk to whoever, go wherever, as long as we’re back on time. I wonder what she does with her break. Is she the sort to keep working all through lunch, diligently punching in numbers between bites of soggy salad? No, no, my Clara is too free-spirited and lively for that. Perhaps she goes to the break room, heats up a bit of soup or munches on a ham-and-cheese on rye, making polite small talk with the soon-to-be-retired. I just hope she will not join the restaurant-going crowd, but she probably will, she is young and beautiful, exactly their type. They’re a group impossible to infiltrate. It’s not explicit, but they are invite-only, and once you have their approval, there’s no going back -- you spend your lunches shuffling between Panera Bread and Au Bon Pain and Jamba Juice, talking about whatever it is the hip millenials talk about -- probably the number of steps recorded on your AppleWatch, or the numbers of likes your photo of the sunset got. They’re a despicable crowd, but a seductive one. I just hope she stays clear. 


Dear Diary, 

Oh no! It is as I feared. I spotted Marcia Jennings, queen bee of the restaurant-goers, spouting some filth to my Clara, making her laugh her beautiful laugh. They were still laughing when the whole herd descendended, and they all left together. I have already lost her to the world of bread bowls and kale smoothies. I spent my entire lunch break staring down a tuna sandwich and holding back tears. I couldn’t force myself to take even a single bite. 


Dear Diary, 

I have never pursued a goal -- a sad admonition, but a true one. I did poorly in school, I’ve never been on a diet, I never learned a language or a skill, or really did much more than what was asked of me. But if there’s one thing worth pursuing, it’s her. I’ve decided to not give up so easily. Sure, they can give her status, relevance, beauty, but they cannot give her love. I, however, am overflowing with it, drowning in it, willing to pour it all at her feet. I will show this to her -- but how? A note perhaps, but I am no writer. I can barely speak to her, much less confess my feelings. Ah -- my mother always said the way to anyone’s heart is through their stomach. But of course! I will use my one love to win the affections of my other love! If I can cook something for her, perhaps some baked goods, something as exquisite and delightful as herself, something I can pour all my love into, a love she can taste… surely that will prove me worthy. 


The problem is that I am no chef. I can hardly boil pasta. A boxed-mix cake will not satisfy, for this desert must be something pure, authentic, delectable. I have found some cookbooks at the thrift store, dusty old hardbacks with film-photo illustrations. Surely something in there must be good. 


Dear Diary,

My first attempts went horribly. I tried my hand at meringue cookies, but simply could not get the egg whites to whip correctly. They foamed and foamed, but never turned into that beautiful, thick, white and glossy mass the cookbook insisted upon. I had to pour the whole sludge down the sink. Tomorrow I will be attempting shortbread; it seems much easier a recipe. 


Dear Diary, 

The shortbread went okay, the dough was of a promised consistency. But I left it in the oven for too long and it turned to a burnt black crisp. Absolutely pathetic. 


Caught a glimpse of Clara as she left during the lunch hour today. Her and Marcia are becoming thick as thieves. 


Dear Diary,

A glorious day it was! I caught her at the water cooler. Could not tell you how the conversation began, but we landed on the topic of spreadsheets. Turns out, my darling has many talents, but Microsoft Excel is not one of them. The Boss demanded a report from her yesterday, something with lots of sums and data, and she had yet to figure out how to even begin. Thankfully, I am a wizard with Excel, and have volunteered my next few lunch breaks to help her learn it. She agreed! Looks like I won’t be eating lunch for about a week, but it’s no matter, I haven’t been eating it anyways. The elastics on all my pants have even started to budge a little. 


I tried making cupcakes after work. A little dense, but edible. I’m getting closer to perfection. 


Dear Diary, 

Today was the first of our Excel lessons. I cannot tell if I am a hopeless teacher or she a hopeless student, but we made little progress. After an hour of instruction, she still could not add values in a column. I asked if she was really okay with missing lunch for spreadsheets, and she insisted that she was. Could it be… could it be that she values spending time with me more than with the restaurant-goers? Oh, I mustn’t get ahead of myself. 


I attempted two recipes at once today, a pear tart and gingersnap cookies. The former was decent, juicy and succulent but still missing something, and the former were rather soft, but could have benefited from a pinch more nutmeg. 


Dear Diary, 

Chocolate chip cookies, soft in the middle, crispy on the edges, a real delight. But they seem too homely a treat for my Clara. 


I finally taught her how to add numbers in an Excel column. Tomorrow we will tackle pie charts.  


Dear Diary, 

This evening’s souffles rose well, perfect little domes. The creme brulee was decent as well. I ate one, and unfortunately the cats took a liking to them as well. Furry bastards licked up everything. 


Dear Diary, 

Maeve, the frumpy little creature that lives in the apartment above me came knocking on my door just as I was taking out my mille-feuilles out of the oven. She burst into my kitchen, hungrily eyeing the tarte tropezienne, macarons, cheesecake, and rum baba spread over my countertops. She told me she had been smelling everything the past few weeks, all the scents wafting up from my oven, and asked me to participate in her church’s bake sale. She said the smells alone guaranteed huge profits. I couldn’t really say no. Though I will admit my deserts have become more decent, none of them have yet been perfect enough for Clara, and I might as well not let the rest go to waste. 


Dear Diary,

Tomorrow is the day. I made brownies, glorious little things, fudgy, chocolatey, gooey, dotted with walnuts for extra flair. They’re absolutely perfect, not too pretentious, sturdy enough to survive the trip to the office, with enough all-American nostalgia baked in to suggest the classic comfort of home, yet with enough revolutionary, gustatory zeal to suggest something new and exciting, a golden-sailed ship appearing on the horizon. I know Clara will love them. I cannot wait to see the pure bliss color her face tomorrow when she bites into one. 


Dear Diary,

So… I brought my brownies to her desk this morning, keeping a careful eye out for the boss. I revealed them triumphantly, ripping the tinfoil off with a grand, swooping arm. My, how they shone under the fluorescent lights, the chocolate glistening, the walnuts sparkling like nuggets of gold. I implored her to take one. She smiled, and said no thank you. I insisted, and she opened her desk drawer, revealing a small army of white bottles inside. It’s Soylent, she explained, a soy-based meal replacement drink. She has one three times a day instead of food she has to chew -- all the nutrients she needs are already inside. She told me she’s not much of an eater, never has been. Too much a hassle -- drinking it is so much easier. I left her desk absolutely crushed, my insides smashed to smithereens. 


   All day the other employees circled around my desk, hungry vultures, all of them. Each asked for a bite of my brownies, but I shooed them all away, insisting it was a birthday present for my mother. My mother’s birthday won’t be for another seven months of course, and perhaps it was petty on my part. But to imagine any of those vile heathens eating my brownies and all the love I poured into every crumb…


By the time I got home, I knew I was being difficult. Even I wouldn’t be able to eat these brownies all by myself. So I knocked on Maeve’s door and thrust the pan into her open hands. She ate one, and then immediately another one, right there in the doorway. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she moaned a little bit, then licked her fingers clean. It was absolutely disgusting, but also kind of endearing. She definitely is a girl that enjoys her food. As I walked back to my apartment, I caught myself thinking that actually is not as bizarre-looking as I initially perceived. I actually am quite looking forward to this little church bake sale. 



April 09, 2020 03:20

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1 comment

Dray Dickey
18:21 Apr 17, 2020

I loved the story but the ending was a little bit unsatisfying. I'd love to see more about what ends up happening with your main character and Clara. The description in this story was also very well done. Overall you did a good job :)

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