Three Micros by Chelsea Stickle

Plates
Photo by Angèle Kamp on Unsplash

Our First Night Together

My lover presses his thumbs against the spine of a snap pea until it splits so he can fish out the peas inside. His mammoth hands, the ones that have completed surgeries, are operating at my table. Crack, crack, crack. “This is how we eat them at home.” His eyes widen. “I once ate ten pounds in one sitting.” I laugh and imagine the size of that pile, the number of bowls involved. With him, I’m trying new things. I’m living more in the moment, so I mirror his movements. The peas are sweeter than any vegetable has a right to be. This is his world: sweetness that comes from the earth. I only get sweetness when I mix ingredients. “Except they’re bigger inside. Sugar peas? Sweet peas?” “Sweet peas,” I answer, remembering the Bath & Body Works label of my youth, and pop more into my mouth. They’re sweet, sure, but I like the way the pods mediate the flavor. It’s more complex. Crack, crack, crack. He's not interested in the pods, and all I can think about is waste. Without his mouth or hands on me, I’m working equations to see how we fit. He distracts me with another story about home. I bite into an empty pod. A little boring without the peas but still a solid, stand-up flavor. Pure chlorophyll. Better together, though. Nature in its wisdom pairing them. The sweet and the solid. Crack, crack, crack. The pods pile up on my lover’s plate. He offers to feed them to my bunny. Disappear them inside him. I say “maybe later” when I mean “no” because “no” would involve explanations he doesn’t actually care about. What he wants is for me to finish eating so we can go back to what we were doing before both our stomachs grumbled in protest until they were a soundtrack we couldn’t ignore. But I’m not sure what I want, so I grab another empty pod and bite down. Snap.

 

 

The thing about liars is they think everyone else is lying, too

so when I soften my voice to say I don't care, I’m having fun, and that's what’s important…he doesn't believe me. He's lied so much, it's part of the fabric between us. My honest little thread doesn't hold up. Not when his manhood is at stake. Limp after four pumps, my chatterbox is silent and still, frozen in place against my damask print shams. I drape my body across his, rest my head against his carpeted chest, and ask whether he wants to tell me what he's anxious about. Performing, of course. His kidney stones prevent him from railing me like the porn star he longs to imitate. I prefer something real, even if it's imperfect, flawed or inconvenient. But I can't tell him that. It would ache too much, and he’s created a hellscape for himself where he can’t hear the truth. Nothing I say will be right. In the absence of words, I raise myself to his face, look him in the eye, smile, and massage his tongue with mine until he moans and forgets for a moment. Relief spreads across his face but doesn’t reach his legs. They know too much. When he leaves in the morning without promising to see me again, I know he’s finally stopped lying to me.

 

 

My mother reminds me I come from a long line of shoppers

Women searching for dopamine hits wherever they could find them, so when a husband doesn’t come home or a son possesses items they know he stole, there’s pleasure to be found in the crystal goblet that houses candy as if it’s the royal jewels. A dash of glamor to lift them. Popping chocolate squares into their open mouths like receiving the wafer during Communion. Waiting for it to break apart between their teeth, spread across the palate and spike joy into their veins. Jonesing for anything good to happen to them, and the only thing in their power is the contents of their wallets. Yard sales stretch the power of their dollar, so they flock to them. Inspecting used Wedgwood sets like a complete, unchipped set will change them, change their families, bind everyone together and happy, and not just at dinner. A plate can fix everything when it’s all falling apart. Return them to their weddings with all their vows and finery. Gift themselves the set they deserved, even if it belonged to someone else first. This is the life they deserved, and it makes the life they received more bearable.

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