As innocent as is – I swear – my soul

My Pizza

Take one pound of strong flour, fine and soft as the sand on some far off beach, the sort of place you speak of, but which is unknown to me.  Add a pinch of salt, the flavor you bring into my life.  Then mix in a packet of yeast, those coarse, dowdy little grains which rise in the dough like my desire.

Pour four fluid ounces of green olive oil, as innocent as is – I swear – my soul.  I long to take you back to Italy, to my mother and my boyhood home.  I picture us walking through olive groves, as the evening sun lights up translucent leaves and shines through the strands of your flaxen hair.  The juices trickle down your slender finger, nestle in the crevices of your knuckle. I press the soft fruit in the palms of my hands, firm, soft and supple as a virgin’s breasts.

Now blend in milk and water.  In my dreams, I see a cow graze upon rough sage in an adjoining field.  Stopping to pluck just a few leaves, I milk her, six tablespoonsful of loving kindness, the sort you bestowed upon me when you first saw me, young, bewildered and alone in a strange country.  Then I stir in water from an adjacent brook, clear and cool, babbling over white limestone pebbles.

We knead each other, writhing and twisting, heaving and pulling, until at last we rest in a warm place, covered for decency’s sake.

The chopped tomatoes which I spread over the dough are my embarrassment.  I never got round to adding the sage.  I should never have said what I said, did what I did, presumed upon what was in reality your good nature and ordinary friendliness.  You were shocked and thrust me away.  You gagged me with a thick layer of grated cheese, stringy and cloying, then for twenty minutes you roasted me with your white-hot anger.

I don’t cook anymore.  I don’t see the point, when there is just one sitting at the table, gazing across the red-checked cloth and two dainty carnations in a vase, at the empty chair opposite.

But I still eat pizza all the time, from cardboard packets, red and yellow, moist, hot and greasy.  I fill my face to plug the void, to stoke my stomach and distract my yearning heart.


Charlie Britten’s work has been published in ‘Radgepacket’, ‘Myslexia’ magazine and ‘The Story Behind the Story’ and online at ‘FictionAtWork’ and ‘Linnet’s Wings’.  She writes because she loves doing it.  In real life she lives in eastern England with her husband and cat and lectures in IT at a college of further education.


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