THE TASTE OF OTHERS
by Madeline Zehnder
She walks gingerly toward the man chopping onions, who turns but does not shake her hand. Later she will learn this was politeness; right now she thinks he is rude. He criticizes the oil she picks for her salad dressing, causing her to cry and consider quitting. In May, she saves his menu with an asparagus dish so fresh and vital they cannot help but kiss for hours behind the stock pots. In June, he finds her cleaning knives at the sink and confesses that his estranged wife has returned. She hurls a cleaver and runs, leaving the other blades to rust.
Another year, another kitchen. She is filleting sole when he walks in, his empty hands telling her everything.
Madeline Zehnder received degrees in English Literature and Music from Smith College. She lives in Cambridge, MA, where she works for a Harvard University research and policy center focused on early childhood brain development. Follow her on Twitter @MadelineZehnder for tweets and illustrations about maps, early America, and the digital humanities.