Holiday Platters with a flair
| Three office workers gathered in the cafeteria for their daily lunch hour. Naomi, the most outgoing of the trio, chatted incessantly about anything and everything. It seemed bragging about her busy social life was the sole objective of her discourse. Maria seemed more focused on the latest fashion trends and cute eligible men that waltzed past the table. Sasha tended to agree or disagree with the commentary of the others, bringing nothing new or controversial to the dialogue. She traveled the course slow and steady, never wavering from the river's flow. All three women were as different as they could be but became friends because of the jobs they held.
"I have so many parties to go to over the holidays. I'm going to need a thousand recipes for food," Naomi muttered.
'Done that, been there. It sucks taking the same food to every party. Who the hell wants to be known as the potato salad lady?" Maria quipped.
"Maybe we should exchange some of our recipes. We won't be at the same parties so they will look like new and exciting treats, except for the office party. We'll have to make sure we don't duplicate," Naomi theorized the plan.
"Sounds good. Damn did you see the hind end on that dude? Hot! Why can't I meet someone like him? Are you in on the recipes Sasha?"
"Oh...sure! He is cute." Sasha stuttered her reply.
"Girl, where is your head? Are you even listening to us?" Naomi teased.
"Yeah, just tired. Second job."
"When did that start? Any cute guys you want to introduce?" Maria said, alert and ready to grill her friend.
"Where is this job of which you speak? Are you trying to strike it rich before the age of twenty-five?" Naomi asked.
"Just trying to keep up with the bills."
"Oh, so where is it?"
"I work at the city morgue. Definitely not a glamour job, but they pay well."
"Eww, that creeps me out! Not going to that party... well maybe... Sure shot of being the life of the party," Naomi joked, not taking Sasha's feelings into account.
"It's not bad!"
"Do you have to ...like touch the bodies? Get them dressed and stuff?" Maria said with a shiver.
"Yes, I get them ready for their debut. Fancy clothes and puffy hair. I paint their lips so they don't look pale and put on mascara so their eyes shine all happy!" Sasha said, now visibly angry at her friends. Comments such as this were the reason she hadn't said anything about the job previously.
"On the men too? Did you wash your hands today?" Maria asked, failing to decipher the signals of Sasha's anger.
Sasha folded into herself in one big slump of disdain. "Yes the men, too. They need to look pretty too. My hands are clean. Can we talk about something else?" she said, thinking even fashion would be a better topic during lunch.
Naomi sensed Sasha's growing irritation but there were things she felt she had to ask.
"Do the bend easy? Like when you fold them in the coffin? I mean... is it like putting a noodle in there or a surfboard?" she asked, while cogs in her head were conjuring up all the questions she needed to ask.
"Oh my God! It's just a job!"
"Do you see them naked? Do they get stiff,....I mean the men? Eww ... a dead guy boner."
"You do know how that works don't you? I think we should exchange our recipes."
"But, I have never known anyone who did what you do. Sorry, but it's disgusting."
"We're done!" Sasha said while spreading her glare around the table.
The conversation changed to the previously upbeat exchange of parties and fashion. Recipes were exchanged via emails and phone messages. Sasha worried about the cost of the ingredients in some of the recipes. She would take a closer look as the parties got closer. They finished lunch and returned to work.
Later that afternoon, Sasha overheard Naomi and Maria telling the other office workers about her second job. They joked and snickered in hallways and bathrooms. Everyone became silent when Sasha entered the room. There was the occasional knock, knock and dead man quips from people passing by her desk. A picture of a corpse in a hangman's noose made it conveniently into her inbox. The betrayal stung, like salt in an open wound.
The office party was scheduled for the sixteenth of December. Sasha thought long and hard about even going. She was still angry at all of them. The jokes had died down somewhat but the pain she felt hadn't. Money was tight and she still needed the second job. She thought maybe after the holidays she would look for something else, but for now, it would have to do. She needed to go to the office party because that was where the boss handed out the bonus checks. It was money she could surely use.
Sasha selected a red velvet dress with black accents. She hoped Maria would approve the dress, as it was an argument she hoped to avoid. She pulled up the recipes and looked for the easiest item with the least ingredients. She opened her cupboards and found them bare. She pondered on her choices of a treat to share. She smiled a smile, big and broad when she found the solution for the holiday fare. Sasha dashed to the store for garnish and herbs. A green glittered platter, all Christmas adorned, she purchased with delight. Her excitement grew as the party neared with her culinary skills she hoped to thrill.
Her platter of meat was the talk of the party. Rolled rings of ham decorated so pretty. Beefy tips with a dash of salt and hint of pepper and savory meatballs seasoned even better. The pinky squares were a chef's magical dream buried in their heavy cream. Angel hair pasta soft and gooey sat in the center and tasted like fancy chop suey.
The dipping sauce was divine being both sweet and tart, twas the color of the season, bright red and served a la carte.
Sasha thought to herself, as she garnered the compliments of her now famous meat platter, "Poor Mr. Finch, who just didn't matter. No one to care but he made a good batter when he gifted me his gooey grey matter. Thank you, sir, for providing this great meat platter and the juicy sauce you allowed me to splatter. Isn't it nice to know in the end, that you really do matter?"
Word Count 1101