Your Monday Prompt: Next Time, Chew

Hey scribes,

We’re waging a final salvo against the October issue of Writer’s Digest magazine, so I’ll be brief today, and wish you an excellent Monday. I hope all is well in your universes, both fictive and traditional. I’m planning to drop a WD nod of the hat to last week’s Notable Story pick Wednesday.

Write on,

Zachary

PROMPT: Next Time, Chew
In 500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring:

At dinner, you choke. Something flashes before your eyes, only it’s not exactly your life.

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  4. Loveskidlit

    When it was clear we were out of the woods, they told me more about the donor. He was a he, but not to worry they said wryly. Tissue is tissue, and his heart was strong and kind.

    The cause of all death is heart failure. The rest is just something for the coroner to do. This heart will fail, like the last one did, but the coroner might get to add: "asphixiation, due to choking," just to make his day more interesting. Certainly, the other diners won’t go home and tell their loved ones: "her heart failed in the restaurant, right there where we all could see it."

    I thought it would last longer, this heart. Kind and strong, it beat inside me faithfully a few million times over. As it jigs and jumps now, and my own vision darkens, I see a cake with a dripping white 40 on top, and it doesn’t belong to me. Nor does the memory of the face of the woman I met with at the hospital. She was crying when I met her, but now she isn’t crying softly, a decorous tissue pressed to her nose. She is crying hard because a fist that also is not mine is hitting her, hard.

    And it occurs to me that this lifesaving heart was a trickster all along, an imposter. At least now, it might stop beating.

  5. Diamond

    I delicately twirled the skewer in my fingers, rolling it between my thumb and forefinger. I paused to reach for the wine glass with my left hand, cupping its full curves and allowing my mind to lose itself for a brief moment in the swirling sea. I breathed in, relishing the spicy undertones and the crisp apple that took me back to harvest time as a child. Apple cider, picking a pumpkin, crashing into giant mounds of leaves–all of that was wrapped up in the tiniest instant in that subtle whiff.

    The sounds of the cars mozying through the plaza mingled with the surges of voices that faded in and out, contributing to the constant hum that served as a backdrop and my table under the heater was the center stage. The light trickled through the glass from the side as I lifted it to my lips, relishing the depth of the microscopic beads that crowded and slipped past each other with each tiny motion of my wrist.

    I set the glass down and turned to the abandoned skewer, which rolled wistfully on the table. I picked it up and, with the deftness of a Spartan, I pierced into the flesh of the broken bread that lazed in the basket. I pondered it, slowly turning it around and looking at its crust, relishing the little dust of flour that still lingered on its swollen top.

    Without warning I plunged it into the pot of warm cheese, causing the candle underneath to flicker and cast a foreboding shadow that ran along the brick wall to my side. Gloating, I caught a drop of molten cheese with my tongue as it attempted to escape and proceeded to stuff the decadent first bite into my watering mouth.

    Just then, an unaware bystander with a prominent rear end began to reverse in my direction with an acceleration and a size which united in a combination I thought only possible at amusement parks. I raised a warning hand and tried to call out to her, but my voice stuck in my throat, gagged with the dry bread and suffocated with the heavy fromage.

    “No!” I mouthed voicelessly as her weight crushed into my metal table, rocking the heavy stand and sending my wine glass twirling like a firecracker, spewing brilliant drops into the air that danced for a moment in the twinkling city lights. I swallowed as the accident climaxed in a sickening shatter as the crystal went head to head with the concrete sidewalk in a definite KO. If I was parched before, I had cotton-mouth now as I watched the precious liquid seep into the ground, leaving only a wet stain in tribute to its short-lived life.

  6. Naomi Harris

    The tang of the cerviche sparkled, a Caribbean rhythm of beaches and steel drums, as a bit of seafood, so fresh I could feel the currents of the ocean dancing on my tongue, blocked my breathing. My mind stumbled, pulled from epicurean enchantment to harsh survival. I could not breath. Immobile, my body in the twilight of conserving the precious oxygen left in my lungs, and filling me with a flood of adrenaline, my vision clouded. Time slowed. My eyes closed, as life images sifted before me.

    I open my eyes to see that twelve-year-old girl looking in a mirror at herself. A fashion magazine lays open nearby, the beauty of the model in the photo charming the adolescent girl, while mocking her with the certain knowledge that she will never be as beautiful. Exhausted from failing to mimic the pose, the confidence, and the beauty of the flat image before her, she turns from the mirror into her father, silently watching her. Embarrassment opens the floodgate of her tears. Her father embraces her, murmuring how she is beautiful, and unlike that photo real, and one day she will see it for herself. Burrowing her face in her father’s shoulder, she closes her eyes, and opens them to see the inside of her senior high school locker.

    She’s 18 years old, and graduating high school in 2 weeks. The yearbook she pulls from her locker is almost empty of signatures, but feels heavy. Not a remembrance of good times, but sullen reminder of all the things that were not a part of her life. She imagines the bright lights bouncing from mirrored balls and signs covered in glitter, marking the senior prom. The colors of the gowns, tuxes, corsages. The smell fruit punch, overlaid with the aromas of perfume borrowed, just this once, from parents. The sighing of silk dresses underscoring the soft ballad of a slow dance. The clubs, the cliques, the friends of other student’s lives. Clutching the reminder of all that high school wasn’t, she closes her eyes, and opens them, looking into the gorgeous brown eyes of her true love.

    Her true love’s strength makes her feel safe. His humor makes her feel happy. His consideration makes her feel proud. Her self-doubt makes her wonder what he could possibly see in her. He parts his perfect lips to speak, and she closes her eyes, wondering if he is going to tell her that she isn’t for him, and he wants more, when a thumping on the back loosens the food stuck in my throat.

    “Are you okay?”

    Still coughing, I open my eyes, and nod. Grasping the life saving hand, my voice still rough from choking, I say, “Yes. You are beautiful. You are wonderful. I love you completely. Always know how much I treasure, and love you”. As she settled slowly into her seat, I ask, “Do you really think I have gorgeous brown eyes?”

  7. S. Petherbridge

    It was more my future I could now see as it rolled across the far end of our table, sparkling delicately in the candlelight despite the crème brulee it was covered in still sticking to it in small chunks as it proceeded to roll off the far end of the table and disappear onto the floor with a definite and final plunk.
    And there it lies, at least for the moment. A moment that had obviously been thought out and agonized over right down to the last detail, with the carriage ride and fine wine and feverish glances at the wait staff, a moment that comes but once or twice in a lifetime for most woman, and is certainly never anticipated to end up like this by either party directly involved I’m sure.
    And yet there it was, this symbol of his undying love and commitment to me, as it had been to his mother long so ago from his own dear father. I had unwittingly regurgitated this family heirloom from my unsuspecting gullet where it had unfortunately lodged itself, the force of which then proceeded to propel it across the table like an old chicken bone to where it now lie beneath us, about to be crushed asunder by the wait staff as they bustled by, surly with another happy couples orders for the perfect meal to compliment an impeccable evening to be remembered always.
    Oh Edgar, what had you been thinking? Suppose it had not lodged itself and had gone instead the way of the crème brulee? Imagine the gleam in this girls eyes as she returned home to sit upon her throne and wait for the inevitable arrival of this token of love in such an unorthodox and uncouth manner! Such a plan Edgar!
    Where does a man come up with such ideas? Does he sit about the pub drinking while thinking of a way to show his commitment to the girl he loves in a new and fantastic way? Hoping it to be remembered and retold time and again to friends and family alike while ignoring the fact that he nearly eradicated her whom he loves in the process?
    Edgar simply sits, stupefied by the entire spectacle. Unable to even reach out and wipe the remaining brulee now dribbling from my chin onto the lap of my new dress saved for just such a special occasion as this. I had thought that perhaps something exciting was to be coming shortly, but while an attempt to engage me was expected an attempt to kill me, or at least my pride in a manner such as this was not.
    As he finally goes to the floor to fetch his offering he returns to me on bended knee, an impromptu apology and certain question at the ready, awaiting only some signal that it is safe to proceed, which I of course must give. He is my Edgar after all, and despite his shortcomings shall always be…

    S. Petherbridge

  8. gs batty

    We had just finished our lunch. Michelle was drinking Irish coffee and I was having a glass of ice tea. I was not looking into her eyes. I was enjoying her cleavage. She had positioned her self so that just enough breast was showing to drive me crazy. She knew what she was doing and she was taking her sweet time with her coffee. Teasing me, making me exceptionally hot for what was just a head. A few stolen hours in the room upstairs. I pick up my tea and took a big drink. As I lifted my head I saw my wife with some of her writing friends waiting to be seated. I gagged on the tea and spit it across the table all over Michelle. She, of course, screamed. It sounded something like "SHIT’. In fact that is exactly what she said. "SHIT’! My wife may not have seen me except every eye in the restaurant was looking at us. Our eyes met and locked. She never blinked or let go of her stare until she looked at Michelle. Her hot green eyes were spitting fire.
    My eyes were now glued on her breasts. They were heaving almost as much as when we made love. She walked toward our able and it seemed like she was in slow motion. Every eye was still watching. I wasn’t sure what she would do or say. She said to Michelle. "you lousy bitch" and slapped her face. She picked up Michelle’s hot coffee and said "you fucking bastard" as she though the coffee in my face. I gasped and then I choked and I really wished the hell I was dead.

    Michelle got up to leave and my wife tore blouse off and pulled her bra down exposing Michelle’s breasts. There she screamed, "everybody look at the boobs of a whore. What’s he paying you. It had better be a lot because you certainly won’t enjoy that tiny thing he calls a penis."

    she turned and stormed out leaving Michelle in tears and me looking for a hole to crawl into.

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  9. S.E.Ingraham

    My Life as A Siamese Cat

    We were sitting on the sofa, le chat et moi
    I, reading Lady Chatterly’s Lover and stroking
    Le Chat, a lovely thing, seal-point Siamese
    Cat with requisite China-blue eyes, only
    Slightly crossed; I, sipping pink lemonade,
    Indulging myself in caramel-corn –
    When a peanut goes down the wrong way
    And just like that, my breath catches and in
    A way that can only be described as Kafkaesque

    I was Le Chat, lolling on the chair arm, lazily
    Regarding my owner whose face was turning
    A curious shade of cerise as she grabbed at her throat
    While I purred, waited for her to slump into
    Unconsciousness before stretching myself fully
    Then sniffed at the concoction she’d been drinking
    Shuddered at its piquant off-putting scent, not milk
    I thought as I delicately touched down, landing as
    Only cats can, with the dull thud that is no sound
    At all really, more the intimation of a sound
    And lifting my long perfect tail high, I pranced out

    Where to go, I wondered languidly, then leapt with
    Inborn ease, to the windowsill, and settled
    Pulling my legs beneath me and stilling my breath
    And unblinking – I became sphinx-like and surveyed
    The yard beyond the window, becoming immediately
    Drawn to the purple martin house atop a pole
    At the foot of the garden – aha, so that is where the
    Baby birds are, I couldn’t help being smug – my owner,
    Such a creature of habit; every morning she sits here
    With her tea, watching the winged wonders that
    Frequent her yard and telling me that I may not
    Visit the garden any longer, no, because I would
    Scare off the birds, not on purpose she tells me
    As if she knows, but being a feline prowler such as
    My ancestors, she knows, she says, that just catching
    Sight of me would have the birds flying off forever.

    Of course, in the main, she is correct, seeing me
    Would frighten the wee winged creatures and they
    Most likely would fly away, but being bird-brains
    They would fly back – ask any cat – and they’ll
    Tell you how easy it is to entice the same birds
    Into a yard over and over again; just the thought
    Has me twitching my tail, back and forth, back and forth

    The paper boy is coming! I make my move….
    Just as he tosses the paper into the house,
    I dart outside – a phantom am I, he never even
    Notices me as I quickly slink behind the peonies
    And start making my way to the bottom of the garden
    There is a preternatural quiet in the yard
    I wonder if the martins are smarter than most other
    Of their ilk. Can they see me back in here?
    Do they sense my deadly presence?

    Just then I hear a sweet squeaking – hungry
    Baby bird noise – they that have their beaks spread
    Wide, begging Mama Bird for food, yapping away
    I am about to scale that pole, I have the claws for it
    When there is a change in the atmosphere and oh no
    I am being sucked back into the human’s form…

  10. J. Alvey

    I choked, it’s true.

    When we walked into this five-star restaurant in this one-star town, our intention was to eat.

    Steak, of all things.

    Having played 18 accompanied by six, if you know what I mean, and you do if you play golf because it is a great way to get exercise while drinking your ass off, I was ready for just about anything, even if I hadn’t eaten or even thought of eating steak for at least six months.

    A medical thing.

    We were a bit boisterous walking into the place, at least Ry and Skinny and me, still talking trash in the aftermath of our epic battle, a battle I fought until the 14th hole, where fatigue got the best of me, and a battle that they fought until the bitter end, striving for the better of scores slightly beyond 100.

    People eyeballed us as we came in. We were a bit boisterous. The ladies tried to hush us, but we are a competitive bunch, and we are even more competitive when we are drunk.

    Still, we know better than to cross the ladies unless we are really fucked up. I was there, but I was alone.

    Ergo, I sat.

    I ordered.

    I noticed that people continued to stare, despite our relative quietude. It was me, with the scars and the slur. There are only so many ways to get through surgery of that kind, and the only way I know is one.

    You just do.

    You survive.

    Or you don’t.

    Sitting there, surviving, I tried a piece of shrimp and I choked. One of the kids sitting across from us, absolutely amazed the entire time by my apparent aberrant behavior, took a picture.

    I do not have a copy of that. He has not been kind enough to send me one.

    But I have the picture, I have the instant, the vomit I have the flash in my eyes, the anger, the sense of futility, the humility, the sense that humanity had finally gone to hell in a handbasket.

    "Thanks," I said to that fat little boy with big fat eyes in that one-star town with one-star parents as I left that five-star restaurant.

    Joe

  11. Patricia A. Hawkenson

    Voodoo

    "Come on home," my mother called,
    "’cause supper’s on the table
    with green bean hotdish waiting."

    My friend tried to warn me
    that casseroles are deadly things,
    and I laughed until I choked.

    But I went home and ate it up
    his words no threat to stop me,
    eating creamy, crunchy beans.

    I cleaned my plate
    asking for more of what
    the fates that day would serve me.

    Leaning over to refill my plate
    my mother’s breast revealing
    a tiny tattooed skull.

    And then I really choked.

  12. Katrina Rychling

    It was a normal dinner. Then I started choking on the spicy peanut chicken. I know we should not have had Thai food for dinner.

    "Honey, Honey, are you okay?" I hear my husband but it is too late I’m dying.

    Just then my possible future flashes before my eyes. I think to myself there is no way I am dying and not seeing it for myself.

    My husband starts pounding on my back. There are tears in my eyes. Then I vomit up the chicken and i know everything is going to be okay. Right after I clean up the mess that is.

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