by Sophia Carlisle
CW: Blood, gore, flesh
It started off as these things always do: a little bit of flirting, rolling the bite around in your mouth before making the decision to swallow. See, when there is a plate in front of you, two options appear. You can either pass on the plate and hope a better dish will come along, or you can pick up the fork and knife and delicately peel apart the flesh of the pork loin, fish, or steak. When you do put it in your mouth, you might first be accosted by the saltiness of the food; it may be an acrid, almost tangy taste that leaves you frustrated and terribly dry-mouthed. Or you might taste something sweet; perhaps a dash of cinnamon and cloves with a bit of sprinkled sugar to make your lips smack and tongue search eagerly for more. But this meal, this meal was not like most. It began as normal as a meal could possibly be, with the typical goblet of sparkling water, utensils, and folded linen napkin. Candles were lit and the atmosphere had the smell of hope. Yet that changed when you reached across the table for the pepper. Seasoning a dish prior to the first bite is in awfully poor taste, but you couldn’t help it. You absolutely adore pepper, and anyway the lamb looked quite underseasoned. The pepper landed upon the meat and the edges of the lamb curled up, just a bit, then flopped back upon the plate. It was an irritating movement, because really, must your food move on the plate? A live meal was not the order that was placed. But then you took your knife and fork and punctured the meat, softly, as you were taught to do, not poking the thing enough to scare it, only to cut it open a smidgen, see what it may have inside. You tried to stifle a gasp, tried not to be rude, as you laid eyes cut apart lamb. Its dark pink flesh was still oozing liquid into the mashed potatoes and beans. The meat ribbed and shredded as you dragged your fork through its middle to get a better look. There had been many terrible meals before, but this, this, was something to behold. You abandoned all niceties then because the audacity of giving you this plate of uncooked, raw flesh that was lacking a good dash of paprika and cumin was incredible. In what world would this meal be acceptable to serve? To eat? To consume in your body, letting it into the deepest parts of your belly to seep into your bones and blood. This meal, should you have eaten it, would not have been nourishment but needles to the beating heart that kept you apart from those with glassy eyes in the ground. But the meat, the meat seemed to notice your apprehension, your disgust. It reared up like it had when you doused it with pepper, but this time, it folded in on itself and created a hunk of rotting muscle and sinew. The lamb was no longer a lamb but a gray monster with bad intentions. It lunged at you, mashed potatoes flicking into your face as you desperately fought it off with the knife, the fork. You slashed at the undead attacker and created thin lines of crimson in the stoney-colored flesh, but still, the meat persisted. You felt the crush of its weight against your mouth before you understood what was happening—the monster stuffing itself between your jaws, past the lips that had once been caressed by your tongue in anticipation of a delicious meal. It got halfway down your throat before you finally clawed it out from your mouth with the help of the knife and fork, your trusty and only, weapons. Gashes lined the space above your chin, under your nose, from the self-mutilation you put yourself through. And still the meat persisted. It slithered and flexed on the table, squelching and readying itself for another assault. It heaved its bloody sack up and down as though it were breathing, fixing you in your seat with eyes that were not there. Green beans were wrapped around it making small and slimy appendages that flopped with each pseudo-breath the beast took. When it lunged again, you were ready. The knife stabbed into the beast with force you didn’t realize you possessed. You tore a chasm through the meat, ripping the beans and the muscle apart. The pepper you had so generously graced upon it leaped off the sliced lamb, desiring no association with a dead thing wanting to kill.
The monster sat there on the plate, cut in half and completely decimated, as you watched the liquid ooze from it with much more fervor. You had broken the beast, sliced it clean through before it had the chance to eliminate you from the inside out. The beast's blood ran down your neck. The smell of its rotting flesh still lingered on your skin. This meal was more satisfying than any you’d ever eaten.
I wrote this story as a response to the horrifying nature of dating, how one can so easily become the predator and the other the prey. This is a piece about sacrificing yourself, or someone else, when it comes to matters of the heart.
- Sophia Carlisle
About the writer:
Sophia Carlisle is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona with a love of snow, scarecrows, and all things spooky. Her piece, The Dinner Date features in Erato's second issue, Sacrifice