Earl disagreed. Earl disagreed with everything – soups were too hot, salads too cold, roasts too chewy and potatoes too bland.
To top it all off, the cherry on the cake, as it were, he said her cooking disagreed with his constitution. Had done so for years, in fact.
Edna sank beneath this culinary betrayal.
She stood by helpless as Earl sought the pleasures of take out, enjoying the labours of other, less skilled, cooks, while she dined alone.
Paper bags and Styrofoam containers snuck in – he thought he could deceive her, but no, she found their grease-spattered remains hidden in the trash. Once, she opened the car glove box and – horror of horrors – a bag of stale French fries fell out.
Edna tried, oh, she tried her best to appease him and cater to his strange tastes. To spice things up, as it were.
But it was never good enough.
His weight ballooned, his doctor was concerned, and his heart threatened to give out. But Earl would not stop – he continued to seek solace in the arms of fast food mistresses and, reeking of French fry grease, he’d return home and turn up his nose at her very efforts.
He said he wasn’t hungry.
It wasn’t spite, she told herself, but loving care, that made her do what she did. After Earl lay bedridden after another heart attack, Edna took matters into her own hands.
Meals carried into the bedroom on a gleaming tray seemed a little off – nothing Earl could put his finger on but –
“Could I have another glass of water,” he’d ask while he pushed food around his plate.
“This is the third one in half an hour; you know what the doctor says.”
“It’s just…” trailing off, he stared down at the plate. Blanched green beans and stodgy potatoes stared back. A chicken leg sat half gnawed.
“You know the doctor wants you to eat more vegetables.”
Watching a glob of mashed fall like cement, he shrugged, and tipped a spoonful into his mouth. Acrid bitterness followed. “Can I have some water at least?”
“You never liked my cooking.”
“No, but –”
“If you ate healthier, you wouldn’t be in this position.”
Earl stared at her, and Edna stood, unflinching. Looking down at his plate, he mumbled, “Maybe you’re right.”
Sighing with martyrdom – or was it victory? Edna turned to fetch a glass of water.
Edna continued the act of dutiful wife, right until the end. All meals carefully were prepared and served by herself only; and if there was a little mix up in the kitchen cupboard between the baking soda and arsenic, only she knew.
At the funeral, mourners gathered together in the church basement, munching on tea sandwiches and slivers of cake.
Edna smiled sadly at whispered condolences, but all agreed that it was an unhealthy diet that finally did poor Earl in.
Liz McAdams is a writer with a fondness for fast food and fine dining. Her work appears in the usual places, including Spelk, Near to the Knuckle, Yellow Mama, scattered around Twisted Sister and will be up soon on Shotgun Honey. Check Liz out at https://lizmcadams.wordpress.com/