How to Bake an Earthquake
I am collecting men. The first is a chef. He smells like roses and mulled wine. He smells like voodoo candles and this sweet city and sometimes I curl up in his beard and sleep. Your walls are so blank and white, he says. They are so hungry, he says, I can hear them growling when I push my ear against them. That’s just the pipes, I say. These walls need feeding, he says. The chef is like an ad for my husband’s shaving cream—Clean. Close. Comfortable. My husband is like the French version—Rasage Net. De près. Et Confortable. He says he’s comfortable but how can he be with all those French vowels sticking in his mouth? My husband likes the walls the way they are. I think those walls need feeding, I say. The chef takes out a marker. A pen. Three scoops nutmeg. Two tablespoons cinnamon. Add pecan. And don’t forget: 10 cups cayenne pepper. The words curl up like ivy on the plaster. My nana’s recipe for cinnamon pecan pie, he says, looking very pleased. He’s such a big man, not the type to have a nana, off cooking somewhere in some little room, an attic, maybe, or a Victorian house down by the sea. To have words that look like a lost little boy in the big white infinite of my husband’s basement. Something about this pie seems fishy, but I don’t want to disappoint him, not the way he’s looking at me, and kissing me, and now the walls are sighing, they’re purring, like a hamster in a soft, dark palm. For the rest of the day I feel tingly, spicy. When the chef’s not looking I spoon the walls and lick.
Leonora Desar’s writing has appeared in places such as River Styx, Passages North, The Cincinnati Review, Black Warrior Review, and Columbia Journal, where she was chosen as a finalist by Ottessa Moshfegh. Her work has been selected for The Best Small Fictions 2019. And 2021, Best Microfiction 2019, 2020, 2021, and the Wigleaf Top 50 2019, 2020, 2021. She was a runner-up/finalist in Quarter After Eight‘s Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest, judged by Stuart Dybek, and Crazyhorse’s Crazyshorts! contest.
How to Bake an Earthquake first appeared in Reflex Fiction.
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