The Taste of Lemon
by Diana Adams
Long before the taste of lemon went bitter in her mouth, she thought of a question to ask him. Lemon linguine should be smooth and creamy with a slight pleasing tang to finish. The noodles should be blanketed in sauce and not a la dente, but soft. Everything went as it should at first, but then right there at the finish everything failed. She really shouldn't have asked him anything.
She had been brave enough just to ask him to dinner. They hardly knew each other, except for buses, the coffee shop and the small pavement step where they both smoked outside the office.
I'm Rould Glass, he said one day.
Are you? was all she was able to say.
But she already knew his strange name, and that the reason his suit bunched up at the back of his head like it did meant that he spent a lot of time leaning back in his chair, thinking. Clea was sure (quite positive actually ) that he was thinking about her. She imagined that he admired her shiny black hair, that she always smelled of liquorish, and that the tops of her breasts that popped out of her dresses were like sweet buns just out of the oven. They talked small and often on the pavement perch, and then she asked him to dinner.
The kitchen buzzed with all the effort she put into the preparation of the meal. The lights above the stove blinked, and she had to replace them. Her reflection in the tea kettle scoffed at her, so she put it in the closet. Sweet Charlotta, her grandmother, came out of the cupboard in the form of dishes. She choose her menu with care; appetizers, Mongolian fire chicken, lemon linguine, and a salad of thinly sliced cold cucumbers that they would eat with their fingers. She wanted to slip the cool slivers into his mouth and hoped she would get the feel of his tongue.
All the preparation went as it should, but he showed up sweating. His hair looked greasy, his lips dry, and his eyes and forehead were a map of lines. But he was pretty good looking, and she still wanted to follow those lines. After the bottle of Andalucian Chardonnay he got even better looking. The Foie gras melted in their mouths the way it should, and when she got up to fire up the barbeque the gin & tonics had already made her feel tanned and witty.
So the chicken was fired , linguini was lemoned, but the cool cucumber slices stayed still in the bowl. They sat on the balcony soused in stars and Clea thought that if she could just stretch her foot out a little more she might easily reach the round joint of his ankle.
Then the idea of a question came to her. Even though she carried on with their conversation about thunderstorms, the shorter vs. the longer oxford, and that carbonated water was dehydrating- in the back of her mind she was formulating her question. I'm going to ask him, she thought as she tipped more Beaujolais into his glass. You're too impatient you slut, her other self warned from the back of her head.
Rould...she foolishly started to say after just twirling up a whole fork of linguini, even though everyone knows you can't eat pasta and talk on a date.
She finished a bite and wiped her mouth. Strangely enough, even though there were four whole lemons in the sauce she couldn't taste anything.
What is it you like about me? she finally asked, and then squirmed at the sight of his sweaty forehead rumpling up even more than it was already. He turned his forehead away from her. But as sure as his name was Glass, she could see right through him.
Oh, I thought we were just having dinner, he said, turning back. But I'm glad we talked about this. All the lines on his face disappeared, and suddenly he was no longer sweating.
That's when she finally tasted the lemon, and her own lips got dry. Her mouth puckered from a bitterness that would linger for weeks before she could find a way to sweeten it.
About the author:
Diana Adams is an Alberta based writer obsessed with food and literature, so far these interests have kept her in very good company. Her work has appeared in Literary Potpourri, Burning Word, Jones Av, and Pagitica. She is currently working on a novel about the mystery of identity, Schiller, booze, bees and thunderstorms.