Boiled in oil, salted sliced potato formed a ring upon the plate I put before her. Her eyes drinking the rudimentary snack as if it was a magnificent boar upon a spit. Again her attendant looked at me as if I was a forlorn and lame weakling, but as that first crunch of crisped potato sang aloud it was accompanied by a groan of pleasure that made the Madam blush. I was impressed by myself. I had never given a woman such pleasure, and from across the room no less. She was exquisite in her refined, elegant wealth. But I knew that I was only a servant, a cook, nothing to a pillar of society like her, but still I let myself daydream of her lips on mine, those same lips that had accepted me through my food. The look in her eyes as she watched me while she ate was almost too much, and she knew it. She saw me blush too and played upon my weakness then.
Knowing how disoriented the serum was making her, I was stunned at how she was able to focus on me at all. But soon enough her plate emptied and she waved me out to the kitchen to bring her more. I planned the leek to be a nest of fried and boiled and baked sinew woven into a bundle of mixed textures topped with ground pepper. Now, as I opened the door to the Madam’s dining room, plate in hand, her eyes met mine and I almost lost the ability to contain myself. Steadying myself, ignoring the stare of the Madam’s attendant, I placed the leek nest in front of my host and bid her enjoyment, knowing full well.
As she began to eat silent tears poured down her silken cheeks. Her shoulders shuddered. Her breathing choked with each mouthful. And as her attendant noticed her distress he stepped forward with a thudding stomp but the Madam raised her hand and halted him, without looking up from her plate. Worried, I didn’t know what was happening, but she finished her plate, then I served her a last glass of schnapps with the second serum in it before she stood and walked out of the dining room without saying a word. Almost gleeful in his duty, her attendant then ushered me from the house and slammed the door behind.
That night I lay in bed reeling. I knew that the Madam had enjoyed her meal. I was sure that she wanted to hire me. But her tears and her silence had crushed me. All I could think was that my chance at glory had been dashed before it had even begun. Why had she cried? Had I hurt her? Why didn’t she speak? Why? Why!
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey