By ABIGAIL JADE KOERNER
Standing in line was annoying. It seemed like people had too much to say and too much change to count! At three o’clock on a Monday, people should be at work. People should be invested in themselves and their lives. Angry thoughts rippled down to my tapping foot which tapped on the floor of the place. Tile floor. Black and white tiles that would make your head spin if you looked down at them for too long or at an odd angle.
The line inched forward. On the way to the register, we moved past sausages, pepperoni, prosciutto, ham, salami, sopressata. Onward past the cheeses. Meats dangled above – trapped in white cloth enclosures which kept them packaged nicely for the future. I wanted to reach up and smack them, but my tapping foot kept tapping and my hands remained situated on my hips.
My eyes rolled behind fat frames of my glasses as the man ahead of me in line spend sweet time deliberating his options. Of course, I was annoyed, and my foot still tapped, and my hands rested on my hips. But secretly, I was so glad to have this moment to read through the menu posted behind the meat display one last time. Pizza is always delicious, and a fine slice of pepperoni could be the highlight of my day. But I hadn’t walked for 20 minutes through snow and ice to bite down on something the Domino’s pizza man could have delivered to my door. The feeling of focaccia bread would fill my tummy while the soft doughy middle and crunchy crust set my soul free. Ravioli, tortellini, or a panino would do. The deli menu confused me more than when it rains and the sun stays out. A sigh escaped my lips and my eyes escaped the menu for a moment. My foot tapped and the man ahead continued to take his time at the counter.
Suddenly, the register opened and closed to accommodate the man’s twenty-dollar bill.
In a haste, I looked down again. And behold! At the bottom of the page, under salads and soups, beside drink options and Italian wedding cookies was the list of calzones. I knew what to do. Inching up towards the register, I grabbed my wallet from my bag. I unzipped it and held the card in my hand as I ordered – gripping it harder and harder until the cashier announced my total and with a satisfying swipe, I made my purchase.
After what seemed like forever, I swung open the back door of the deli. I sat down at a black wire table underneath a canopy of grape vines that I could not identify as real or fake. I unrolled the top bit of the brown paper bag I had carried outside with me and reached in. Warmth escaped the tin foil encasing the calzone and I felt my hand grow hotter. I unwrapped the foil.
Grease trickled down my pointer finger, so I licked it off. The fork and knife at the bottom of the bag stared at me until I picked up the calzone with my bare hands and took a bite. Cheese spilled out as my face moved backwards from the product and my teeth chewed. Bursts of flavor forced me to close my eyes. Textures of sauce, meats, cheese tickled my tongue. This was ecstasy and the sun shone down and peeped through the vines to see it. Unapologetic grease dripped down my chin and landed on my shirt. All I could do was smile between bites and pray my laundry detergent could combat the stains to come.
Abigail Koerner ([email protected]) writes short fiction but not always while fighting off dribbles of calzone grease.