BY ERIN FITZGERALD
Carmella had tried it every way she could think up. Sliced on a hoagie, with mayo and cheddar. Blanched in champagne, a poached egg on top. Deep fat fried, with a whiskey sidecar. Pounded and stuffed with cream cheese and morels. Shredded and sautéed, in cayenne and sherry. Pickled, tickled. Roasted, toasted. Julienned. Juiced. Rustic. Raw.
But no matter the method, the manner, the meal, it just kept growing; and Carmella kept shrinking, into the corner so tight and so far, that only with a heavy squint could you make her out at all.
Then one day — tired of eating, sick from shoveling — she got mad. She threw down her napkin, stood straight up, crashed her bowl into the wall, and hurled her fork forward, goring the beast.
It whimpered and whined, then reared back so high, it knocked itself out on the light fixture and dropped in a heap on the linoleum.
A moment of quiet fell.
Scared of the still, muscle memory kicked in. It drizzled chocolate syrup, sprayed whipped cream, garnished the creature with crushed nuts and a cherry. Carmella, regaining the reins, faced the concoction, her mouth watering for the final course. She inched forward, ready to dig in, until another long-forgotten muscle intervened, pulling her back for a different view.
This time, the silence granted clarity. Carmella felt sick.
An elephant — with chocolate syrup, whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry — was still, after all, an elephant.
Carmella shook out her skin, found her land legs, and looked for the door. Funny, she didn’t remember it being right there by the corner.
Once outside, she tried to recall how exactly they’d landed together in that little space, all those years ago. She shuddered, almost amused (almost), and hobbled away in search of some coffee.