Pasta with a Side of Envy

Submitted into Contest #100 in response to: Write about a character preparing a meal for somebody else.... view prompt

1 comment

Crime Friendship Teens & Young Adult

Maria stumbled blindly into her kitchen with brown mountains clutched in her arms. Horrifyingly, her toe hit one of the bar stools, so she immediately dropped the bags onto the counter. A shattering sound scolded her for her carelessness, and she had no time to tend to her foot's fallen soldier.

Hurriedly, she started rummaging through the bags, predicting what was lost as she removed item after item. To her dismay, her hand finally found the sauce jar bleeding all over the toast.

Change of plan then.

After wrapping it up in paper and discarding it in the trash, she placed her hands on her hips, staring at her kitchen as if she could see through the leaf-colored cabinets. She walked towards the refrigerator to find inspiration (and chocolate). Her eyes soon found shrimps, and as she opened the freezer to put them there instead, the memory of her first meal with her crashed into her mind. She froze like the ice cubes in front of her, then placed the shrimps on the counter and settled on preparing Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo.

Maria tried to block those memories out, but how could she when the smell of shrimp sizzling slowly on the pan filled her nose? She could have prepared anything else, but this choice was ideal, and she wondered how she didn't think of it as the first choice.

"Your death did not go wasted, my friend." She saluted the garbage can while wiping an imaginary tear.

Looking at the open balcony she noted that the bustle of the city wasn't as loud as usual, that if she let herself relax for a bit, she could just imagine the sound of the waves embracing the shore just below the restaurant...

************

Maria quickly covered her mouth as an overly loud snort escaped her, which made her companion laugh even more.

"God, we need to stop," Maria chuckled as her cheeks flushed the color of the sun sinking behind them, "everyone is staring."

"Maria come on! We're having fun! You think of people too much," Jane exclaimed, "Kinda reminding me of Sara."

As soon as she uttered those words her light expression fell, leaving behind a foreign gloomy face. But that did nothing to silence Maria's curiosity.

"Who's Sara?"

"An old friend."

"Why is she an old friend?" It's a good thing Maria isn't a cat.

"She.. We were both dancers. We were never competitive really, I mean we were both serious about it but as time passed she started treating me differently." Jane's face wasn't gloomy anymore, it was bright, not with her beautiful smile, but with something else that Maria chose to ignore.

"I figured it must be because I was starting to do better than her," She stared at the sea before quickly adding, "n-not that I meant to, it just happened and before I could confront her changed attitude she.. she-"

"She what?" Maria nearly snapped, already anticipating the worse.

"She passed away suddenly. A car accident."

Maria was expecting something like her breaking her legs and never being able to dance again, but this had the same effect.

"I'm very sorry." She started playing with her fork in the pasta, acting as if she lost her appetite when she was dying to dig in.

"It's okay really, it hurt to lose a friend like that but you know.. at one point it didn't feel like we were friends."

"Because if she was truly your friend she would have been happy for you, not jealous."

************

If she was truly your friend she would have been happy for you, not jealous.

Of course, it was a lot easier saying it when she didn’t know what it felt like to be bested. What it felt like to watch your dream life become someone else’s reality. And soon enough her lack of understanding towards Sara turned to sympathy, then to being in Sara’s shoes. And maybe even other people that Maria knew nothing about.

When she had the pasta in the boiling water, Maria sat in the living room and turned on the TV. And there it was. The local news station covering the car accident that took place only a few blocks away from her apartment. It wasn’t shock that she felt at that moment. Or anything really. She didn’t know how to feel. There was no certainty behind this vague headline. And even if the cameras switched from the solemn-looking reporter to the bodies being carried to an ambulance, there was no certainty. Not that her plan won’t work. It would. It had to. It was the only thing untouched by her friend. But by what would come next. She felt no regret. No relief. She just thought of how she needed to take the pan off the stove.

After that was taken care of, she put in the flour, then the cream. The white shining cream. It was the same thing Maria’s (very proud) mother used to describe jane’s outfit’s color as they were preparing for her party. A party thrown celebrating Jane's landing Maria’s dream job.

************

I thought you were a dancer.”

She turned to Maria from the plate she was filling to herself. She made sure to order as many cupcakes as possible for Maria’s best friend's surprise birthday party. Or Maria’s ex-best friend.

“I was?” she answers confusedly after a while.

“And what happened to that?” maria asked, trying to hide the anger from her voice. Why would you leave your old successful life behind, with your “passion” and friends and everything?

Because I got bored of it. It doesn’t interest me anymore.”

Maria opened her mouth to ask why, but the smirk and the now-

familiar glint in her eyes answered her question.

It doesn’t interest me anymore, because it doesn’t interest you.

************

Maria put the pasta in the sauce and started stirring, adding the parmesan. As she put the parsley in place her hand hovered over the vial of a white substance, looks like salt, but slightly adds the sweet taste of sugar. And the after-taste of something else. Eventually, she decided on sprinkling some on one of the ready dishes, before placing them on the dining table.

Half an hour of scrolling through the phone passed. To be more accurate, half an hour passed as Maria scrolled through her Instagram feed, found a picture of her parents hanging out with Jane the previous day, remembered how they told her they had no time to go with her to her favorite spot in the city cause they had to get packing, started crying, removed any traces of that, then sat back on her seat.

She awaited knocking or the bell ringing, then remembered she wouldn’t get either. Instead, there was silence. Then the turning of a key in the lock and soon the slam of the door.

And in came stunning Jane, fiery hair glistening under the lamplight as she strode in. Maria always wanted red hair when she was young, and now the thought of dying it revolted her.

Jane grabbed maria and hugged her tightly before she could stand up to do it. They exchanged greetings and Jane sat down after placing some box on the table. She craned her neck to sneak a look at the TV in the living room.

“So you saw the news!” She exclaimed. “I was there when it happened! The truck crashed into the car right behind us.”

“Oh God! I’m glad you’re okay.” Maria hoped that her acting skills were convincing enough.

Jane regarded her for less than a second before they broke into friendly conversation. Maria watched jane closely, at moments pausing to wonder if she was eating the wrong dish.

When they were done jane rushed to the living room with Maria trailing behind. A shiny object on the ground caught her eye, then bending down to grab it, Jane sped to snatch it from her. Maria stepped back and quickly looked at it, then at the box of sugar-coated biscuits on the coffee table, and finally at jane. A look of shock crossed her face, quickly replaced by triumph.

Certainty at last.

Jane wiped sweat off her forehead. The first sign. Her once pretty smile resurfaced, yet now defeated, angry, confused. She looked past her defeater to the table they just dined on, then her amazed eyes met Maria’s.

“Congrats. For once, for the most time it mattered, you were one step ahead.”

July 01, 2021 20:26

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1 comment

Hend Nasser
18:10 Jul 06, 2021

The Recipe: https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a54004/easy-shrimp-pasta-alfredo-recipe/

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