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Not (Cooking) Tonight

Level: Chef
Your basket:
Main Ingredients:
red wine

Spice Pack:
1 whisper of compassion
1/4 pinch of exhilaration

Not (Cooking) Tonight

“So then I told that old hag to shut her big dumb ugly trap. There’s a new sheriff now woman I says to her. And clean up those dishes too.”

“Damn right ya did.”

“That’s why I love you, Rudy.”

The throaty voices and gruff laughter trailed off as the husky trio strode past her. With it went the stench of skunked beer and stale cigarettes.

This wasn’t Shelly’s normal scene. No, Shelly was what some might call a classy girl. Cultured, even, by some standards. Yet on this night she found herself among the seedy late-night crowd at Lee’s Tavern. Tonight, Shelly didn’t want her pricy red wine or pretentious martini’s. No, tonight Shelly wanted to be real. She’d come to Lee’s to see what it was like to really live. To feel. To see what she’d been missing out on. She knew she’d go back to her playing her role as the idyllic housewife and overprotective parent tomorrow. But not tonight.

Shelly, dressed in her least PTA-like attire, sat in the booth across from the bar and knocked back her third tequila shot and immediately chased it with the last ounce of her lukewarm Heineken Light. It was time for another. She casually made her way over to the bar.

“Another, hon?” the aging barmaid offered politely. Shelly could see a whisper of compassion in the woman’s tired eyes.

“Yes, please,” Shelly replied with a weak but grateful smile.

Shelly clenched the bottle and began to take a long satisfying gulp when suddenly she heard...


The masculine voice sounded strangely familiar but oddly out of place. Shells. There was only one person on earth who called her that. But it couldn’t be--

She raced to both finish her sip and turn in the direction of the sound. In an instant she knew it was him. But how? Why? Her eyes bulged and her brow revealed the confusion in trying to process the monsoon of questions.

He simply smiled. A pinch of exhilaration ran through her body.

Two hours later, the pair could be overheard laughing and reminiscing about old times.

“And what about the time we went skiing? Do you remember how long it took me to-”

“Get down the hill? Uh yeah, how could I forget?” he finished her sentence.

“Oh ok, I got one for ya. What about the dinner by the lakehouse….”

“Roasted squash with fennel and beets.”

“Oh my god and..”

“Mosquitoes in the salad!” they roared in unison.

“Yes, of course. It’s been so long Shells.”


“Ya, know, this might sound crazy but I have a hotel not too--”

Shelly shook her head urging him to stop. She grabbed his hand.

“Don’t. No. Not tonight. This was nice. I mean this was great, but I-I have to go home.” She got up to leave.

“Ya know, Shells, you haven’t changed a bit,” he said with a disappointed shake of the head.

Shelly returned the compliment with a knowing smile and an equally-as-disappointed raise of her eyebrows.

“Yeah, neither have you.”


  • Really nice creativity with this basket. Became very cinematic for me and I found myself rooting for Shelly to have a reminiscent night with the mysterious man. It was refreshing to read a story that I was not expecting to read. I love how you slipped the fennel and mosquitos into a memory they both shared. It was not forced, rather each new ingredient was generously added to fuel the story in the direction you wanted it to go in.

    The ending formatting is the only thing that makes me curious as to why it is there. Is it a typo or did you have an intention behind it. Also it would have been nice to have her leave with her silhouette drifting away as he stares longingly after her. Just some food for thought. All in all loved this read!
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