Saturday, 26 June 2021

'The Skill of Blending Flavours' by Emma Lee

Shredding kale should be cathartic, but even imagining a bonfire of your images isn't helping. The leaves' texture is rough, the jagged edges refuse to be smoothed. Steam is already rising from the broth. I press 'play' and wonder if you're prepping dinner too. I add the kale, spring onions and chard to the broth. You wouldn't meet my eyes, stammered when you spoke. I thought I'd done something wrong.

The soft string intro starts before I realise what song my phone's shuffle selected. The plaintive, female vocal, its alto one of yearning. Our song.

The one I meant to remove from the songlist. I mix the miso paste with a dash of hot water to ease out the lumps. You'd said you'd felt too much to talk. The only confidence you had was that I wouldn't be with you. Shouldn't I have had a say? This song was playing in the bar when we kissed.

I stir the miso paste into the soup and add the nori. The bass line begins to underline the melody. We went from barely talking to living in each other's pockets. No way of turning down the heat. A mix of spicy urgency where the flavours never quite gelled. Exciting at first until I wanted our tastes to blend, to share. You felt we were too combined to separate.

I slip in the silken tofu and pull the saucepan from the heat. The song's reached the fade. The steam softens the angles on my face, blurs into shared features. Your hazel flecks, my green eyes merge into us. I pour my soup into a bowl. My first taste is salty.

Our song echoes in my head. My second taste is a comforting warmth. I wonder how to adjust our recipe.

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