The Bowl

Not sure where this idea came from, but it’s something spooky for Halloween. (Who thought that a picture of sugar could spark those thoughts?)

They ate in silence, the air between them only filled with the sounds of their forks and knives as their utensils scraped against the gray porcelain plates. Mike opted for the last bit of pork chops, leftovers from three nights ago. Julia was left with the sides: green beans, mashed potatoes, roasted carrots. It was fine, she was considering going vegetarian anyways. Between them sat a covered white bowl decorated with hand-painted pictures of flowers and vines. A small teaspoon stuck out between the lip of the bowl and its lid, revealing a small crescent of white grains on the inside. Far too course to be sugar, but too fine to be salt.

Julia eyed the bowl, glimpsing from her plate from time to time. Mike mirrored her glances, like a protective watchdog. The bowl had been hers, handed down for countless generations, it was insulting to see Mike guarding it like his own precious item. But she knew why.

Julia never knew what the contents of the bowl were composed of. She had had never needed to refill it, nor did she bother to take it to a lab to investigate its chemical makeup. But whatever lay within it was unlike anything you could get at the store. Whatever it was made of it would enhance the contents of one’s food or drink, amplifying the flavor to a sensory overload. And then it’d send you far away in a state of euphoria. Food heaven, if there were ever such a thing. Mike, unlike her, had recently discovered it hidden away in the cupboard, three days ago. Without any training, his taste buds could not handle the overload. He had become dependent on it, an addict. After four days of its spell, Julia had yet to break it.

“Mike-” Julia said.

“Salt,” Mike interrupted. He took the teaspoon and began shoveling the spice upon his food. Glazing it with a white dusting, like snow. He dug into his pork chop. Julia watched with horror as the spice consumed him.

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