by Than Pence
During their anniversary, Sebastian and Maria deal with an unusual problem.
|Taking a bite of my steak, I frowned. It tasted… different. Wrong. Looking at my wife, I said, “You do somefing different to da dakes?”
“What? Honey, didn’t your boorish mother teach you about talking with your mouth full?”
I smirked: of course my mother never taught me how to talk with my mouth full. Whose mother did? I reluctantly swallowed, repeating my question.
“No, they’re the same as I always cook ‘em. Why? Taste different?” Alarm crossed her face and I felt a little bad for mentioning it; she was going to start panicking over a trivial matter. My wife puts so much effort into each meal, it seems. I shouldn’t have said anything.
“No, dear. They taste the same.” I took another bite and was greeted with the same blandness. After swallowing, I continued. “I mean, they sort of taste the same.” Looking down at my plate, at the gross amount I had left to consume, I asked, “Has the seasoning gone bad?”
“Seasoning doesn’t go bad, Sebastian.” She scooted the chair away from the table and went to the cupboard. Pulling down the seasoning, Maria pointed to the label. “See? No expiration date. Oh, well, on the bottom, there’s a date, but that’s next year. And we bought this stuff a few weeks ago.”
“But how long was it on the store shelf before we bought it?”
Her eyes widened, her lips pursed. She was angry at my blatant disregard for her feelings, for how hard she’d worked to prepare this anniversary meal.
With quick strides, she grabbed her knife, causing me to flinch. With her bony finger, she held my steak down while she sawed at one end. One question floated through my mind. When’d she wash that finger? After she was finished lumberjacking my meat, she picked the morsel up and put it in her mouth. Some juices dribbled off her chin in the process, landing on the front of her dress. The sizzled meat smelled potent and I yearned for it, especially that on her front.
“Tastes fine to me.” Slamming the knife down next to her plate, she looked into my eyes. “Now what’s wrong with you?”
“I want you,” I said as my temperature rose and my mouth salivated. Her blatant display of power aroused me.
“What? No you don’t. Come on. Eat your steak. Then there’s desert.”
“In the bedroom?”
Her face puckered. “No, honey. No. Tiramisu is not to be eaten in the bedroom, remember?”
I blushed, looking away, remembering my first failed attempt at the art of food seduction. The sheets were forever stained.
Taking two breaths, I inhaled the aromas of my meal again, along with Maria’s whisper of perfume. It was noticeably stronger now; she usually wore a very modest amount. I guess tonight’s special I thought to myself as I put another piece of moist steak in my mouth.
There was no taste. I almost felt my blood slowing inside, my heart deflating, at the idea that this meal was supposed to be fantastic, followed by some delicious tiramisu and then a night of passion in the bedroom. Maria must’ve noticed my reaction. “What is it, Bastian?”
“I can’t taste this!” My head started to ache as the aromas continued to fill the air. “And your perfume is… is giving me a headache, I think. I can feel it burn its way through my nostrils, into my brain.”
“What’re you talking about? I barely put any one. Even less than usual.”
“Then fucking wash it off!”
She flinched at my remark and I felt my heart skip beats. Had I said that? No, I had nearly screamed it. At my wife. On our anniversary. Maria’s face was cast downwards, her lips trembled. I reached my hand towards her, but she drew it back, setting in on her lap. “I’ll… I need to go to the bathroom. I’ll be right back.”
“No. I’ll be back.”
She stayed in the bathroom for fifteen minutes. I heard her intermittently cry and run the water. The sounds were very loud, as if they carried throughout the house and I wondered if that was just because I was intently listening. After she was through, she flushed the toilet and came back to the table. A thought persisted: Why flush and then come out? To mask the fact she’d been crying? Or did she use it and didn’t wash her hands? I dared not ask as it would only upset her further. Instead, I focused on my steak and the indention Maria’s finger had left.
“Okay. Let’s eat. I’ve washed it off.”
A new scent filled the air: soap. It was repugnant, but I said nothing. Grabbing my wine glass, I took a gulp and was further amazed that I couldn’t taste that either.
“What, Bastian? I washed off the damn perfume. What else—”
“I think we should go to the hospital.”
She looked confused, incredulous. “Why?”
“I can’t taste anything. Something’s… wrong.”
In no time, we were on our way to the emergency room.
I was surprised to discover I had lost my sense of taste. The doctor called it ageusia. He said it was rare and asked what medications I was taking, which was none. Then Maria reminded me that I took a cap of Benadryl every night to sleep. The doctor said some antihistamines have been known to tamper with the taste.
I then related my experiences with the perfume, to which the doctor suggested that my sense of smell was compensating for my lack of taste. It sounded like bologna to me, but he was the doctor. He referred me to an ear, nose, throat-doctor and I promised I’d call in the morning.
When we got home, Maria asked what she could do to make it “all better”.
I replied, “Kissing is a good start.”
She did, and it tasted far different than what I was used to. But it felt wonderful.
Word Count: 999