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cooking without company

edited April 2017 in Dishes
Main Ingredients:
round up
sesame oil
parmesan cheese

Spice Pack:
1/4 whisper of awe
1/8 dash of adoration
1 dollop of serenity
1/2 tablespoon of affection

i guess you could say she's an acquaintance? kind of? i mean, she probably doesn't remember my face.

the grocery store across my apartment is a quiet place. the low buzzing of the fluorescent lights mixed with the slight creaking of ancient shopping carts is a peaceful melody after an overwhelmingly busy day running stupid errands at the office.

"do you need a bag?"

"...what? oh! no, here, i have one."

"that'll be $31.67"

i count out the change painstakingly, fall 3 cents short, and decide to round up to $32. there goes my last bill.

she bags the sesame oil, buttermilk, and panko breadcrumbs first, rests the parmesan cheese and chicken breasts on those, fits the cod and asparagus neatly at the side and places the eggs carefully on top. it's an impressive feat, considering the size of my crumpled tote that i got for free at some event a couple of weeks ago. a few seconds after she's done bagging, the boxy machine spits out a fading receipt.

i take the bag.

she says, "have a nice day."

there are no customers behind me. the lights in the canned foods aisle flicker slightly. her nametag reads SYDNEY and earrings are black cubes. i kind of love the way a stray piece of curly maroon hair falls on her forehead. most of it is buzzed off, but a little remains on top.

"do you wanna grab some dinner with me after your shift is over?"

-- is what i wish i had the guts to say. instead, i walk back to my apartment alone.

as i dip the chicken into beaten eggs, flour, buttermilk, and then flour again, i think about the last time i cooked for my friends. it's been a while. the oil starts sizzling as i drop some test flour in. cooking alone is relaxing, but sharing a meal with another person always makes it taste better. i carefully place the chicken in the frying pan, check on the asparagus in the oven. the parmesan crust is browning beautifully. i wonder what sharing a meal with SYDNEY would be like. probably won't ever find out.

tomorrow is my best friend's birthday. i eat my fried chicken and asparagus alone, and look up cod fillet recipes for his birthday dinner.


  • I really enjoyed this story. The overarching feeling felt constant, almost listless. I also believe it is a relatable feeling and scenario people go through. That feeling of being alone and doing things alone can be refreshing, but at the same time we yearn for connection. Also, your imagery is really strong here, especially the scene at the grocery store.

    It was interesting that you use write in lowercase but when you refer to Sydney you use all CAPS.
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