Four slices of lunch meat, two each.
The last two water crackers in the package, stale.
A can of lukewarm Sprite—poured into two bright green juice glasses.
One chicken nugget divided carefully down the middle, then again, to create quarters, which we choose playground-style. His. Mine. His. Mine. We take turns so it’s ‘fairsies.’
The microwave beeps long and loud, letting us know that the leftover black beans and rice are warmed and irradiated. “That’s a reassuring sound,” he says. Ten more seconds, just to hear the beep again.
Elation to find the can of Kraft Easy Cheese, until we remember the crackers are gone, and we have nothing but each other’s tongues to squeeze it on. He finds a can of black olives, pitted, and proceeds to fill each one with a squirt of cheese.
A tiny can of tomato paste. Not sauce. Paste. But it doesn’t matter because we’re out of pasta, and no water anyway. “If you put it on crackers,” he says, “you can make little pizzas with the cheese.” But we are out of cheese now. And crackers.
The last two swigs from a bottle of Pinot Grigio, which I offer to share but he refuses because it’s dehydrating. I argue that the last handful of Bugles is more dehydrating. We debate. No one wins.
We both finally admit we don’t like salad. We let the bad lettuce go.
Two squares of dark chocolate, also refused by him. “What are you, an alien? Who doesn’t like chocolate?” In return, I let him have the last handful of Bugles, plus all the crumbs in the bottom of the bag. But the joke is on him–that bag is old. Like, last-summer-barbecue old.
He discovers if you eat the black olives with the tomato paste it kind of tastes like lasagna. We divvy the remainder of the can down to the last odd olive. He offers it to me. Gentleman. I offer to split it with him. “Fairsies.”
The earth rumbles. Then the emergency power cuts, and the rest of the lights go out. Alarms blare, long and loud, in the distance.
We share our last olive in the dark.
A fearful but realistic word picture of where we may be headed! Good, if disturbing, read.
Interesting take on eating habits today with just the right ending! I heard yesterday you can buy a machine for $300 that will make your own Coca Cola. Will folks be standing in line?
I believe, those machines have been out for several years. I would not buy one and know no one that would. A one cup at a time coffee machine, yes.
I had a thought this might turn out to be that kind of ending ( but that doesn’t make it bad ! ). Really enjoyed this. The amount of suspense was perfect. Good job.
I enjoyed this story, and the cliff hanger!
Very unsettling, indeed! You did so much in so little space–very skillfully written!
Nice lede, you got right into it and hooked the reader. Well done!
Loved the detail. No despair, just the activity of eating ‘what’s left.’ Then. . .a rumble. Perfect!