CW: A Secret Ingredient

Nathan looked at the clock on the wall.

5.05

It was time. He turned off his work computer and went into the kitchen to inspect his pantry. He looked around the shelves, taking stock, and nodding to himself. It seemed that he had all the necessary ingredients to bake a cake.

He did not feel like getting in his car and going shopping. Whenever he could, he avoided going shopping after work because that was the time when the store would be filled with a lot of people who stop on their way home. Nathan did not like having to maneuver in between people as he raced down the various aisles and he hated waiting in line at the register. There was always someone in front of him who would hold up a line whether because their coupons for 10 cents off did not work, or because they did not know their EBT cards would not pay for alcohol, or simply because they were too chatty with the cashier.

Maya, whom Nathan met only a couple of weeks ago and had been with only on one date, was scheduled to come over later that night. Nathan wanted to make a good impression.

“Women like guys who cook,” he heard so many times.

Nathan believed that Maya was already into him, but it never hurt anyone to try even more. He was sure he would knock it out of the park. He smiled proudly. It was a work night so he did not have enough time to cook a full dinner but figured a dessert would do the trick.

Before getting to work, he called in the dinner order in to his favorite Mediterranean restaurant.

7.30

That was when he wanted the food to arrive. Maya was not due until 8.

After putting on a playlist with some of his favorite tunes ranging from classical music, through current pop hits, to heavy metal, Nathan prepped his workstation. The kitchen counter was clean, but he could not risk any potential contamination. Spending most of the night in the bathroom was not his intention. He sanitized the kitchen island and pulled out a cake pan, a measuring cup, measuring spoons, a couple of spatulas, a bowl, and a mixer. If there was anything he needed, he would pull it out as he went, he figured. Nathan wished he could snap his fingers and have everything appear premeasured, neatly arranged on his workstation like it does on the cooking shows.

Having someone wash the dishes would be nice, too,” he thought and frowned. He would be just fine. Being self-sufficient was a trait Nathan treasured dearly, but it did not stop him from acknowledging the fact that he would prefer NOT to do certain things by himself. Maybe one day that wish would come true…

Set the oven to preheat…

Vivaldi’s Spring began to play and Nathan swayed from side to side as he pulled out the cake recipe and then some of the ingredients listed first.

Add flour…

Add sugar…

Add baking powder…

Nathan reached for the baking powder in the back of the shelf…

No baking powder…

I KNOW I have baking powder!” Nathan pulled everything off the shelf. Maybe the baking powder was not where he thought it would be. He could not imagine putting it somewhere else other than he normally would, but he had to check. He remembered getting baking powder just recently, for another cake he did just a couple of weeks ago. There had been plenty left.

After pulling everything off the shelf and the other two – above and below – he capitulated. “I gotta go get the baking powder.” Nathan looked at his watch. 5.45. The store nearby closed at 6. “I can make it.” If he left right there and then, he would make it into the store just before closing time. He grabbed his wallet and his car keys, leaving his phone, which was playing Drake, behind. There was no time to waste.

6am-7pm

Nathan cursed under his breath when he got to the store. “I didn’t have to rush, after all.”

He entered the store, made a B line for aisle 7, grabbed the baking powder, paid at the register, and was out in under four minutes. “If only everyone was that efficient.” Nathan sighed and then drove back to his apartment.

The rest of the recipe went by without a hitch.

As he put the leftover ingredients back, he noticed an old can of baking powder. “I KNEW I wasn’t crazy.” Nathan felt victorious but also a bit annoyed. He did not have to go to the store…

***

“Phew…” Nathan exhaled once the cake was out of the oven. The cake looked perfect and Nathan was sure it would taste even better with his secret ingredient. He wondered if Maya would be able to guess what it was.

Once the cake cooled off a bit, he covered it with chocolate ganache. “Yum!

***

The dinner arrived two minutes ahead of schedule, which pleased Nathan who hated when people or things were late. He arranged the various dishes on the table for Maya to choose and pick from – family style.

***

When Maya arrived, Nathan took her coat and showed her to the dining room where the table was set with two candles burning in the middle of it. He dimmed the lights a little.

“How romantic,” she commented with a smile.

Nathan smiled back, pleased that he was already scoring points. “I got you a Greek salad like you ordered, but I also got some hummus and pita, some lamb kabobs, and more, in case you wanted to try anything else. Help yourself.” Nathan pointed to various dishes laid out on the table.

“Thank you. I will.” Maya sat down and placed the napkin in her lap.

They ended up sharing the food and trying everything from each plate. Maya complemented Nathan’s choices on a few different occasions. They spoke about their families, their careers, their plans for the future, and much more. The evening was going swimmingly.

“Would you like some dessert?” Nathan asked on his way to the kitchen.

“Oh, no, thank you. I am full,” Maya answered, wiping her mouth with the napkin.

Nathan stopped in his tracks. “But I baked it myself. Just for you.”

“Oh…” Maya felt guilty. “Oh, OK, then. I have to try it then. Just a small piece.”

“Awesome! Coming right up!” Nathan retrieved the cake that was cooling in the fridge and cut a couple of slices. “I will pack you an extra one to take home.”

“You’re THAT sure I will like it?” Maya giggled.

“We shall see,” Nathan replied with a smile as he placed a plate in front of Maya.

***

“Are there nuts in this?” Maya asked, grabbing her throat. Her face was visibly swollen, her lips looked like they were stunned by a bee. The redness in her face grew deeper by the second.

“Why yes. How did you know?” Nathan answered, the corners of his lips curling upward.

“I’m … allergic…” Maya announced as she rummaged through her purse in search of an EpiPen.

“Oh, are you?” Nathan feigned surprise, still sitting at the table, eating his slice of the cake.

He knew she was allergic.

People put all sorts of information on social media these days,” he thought and shook his head with disapproval. “Don’t willingly give people ammunition if you don’t want to get killed,” Nathan said to Maya.

The medication was not in her purse. She must have forgotten to move it from her regular bag to the brand-new one she got to impress Nathan. “What?” Maya asked in between coughs. She had been so preoccupied with her state that she had not paid attention to Nathan, who, she now realized, was not trying to help her.

“Oh, nothing,” he replied before scraping bits of the chocolate ganache from the plate.

Maya’s eyes filled with terror. She slumped onto the floor.

“And now I have to wash the dishes and clean up the mess.” Nathan sighed.

***

“Write about a character preparing a meal for somebody else.
+
“Write a story that involves a secret or magic ingredient.”
– prompts used for this CW piece.
[Source: Reedsy 1 and 2]

***

P.S. As always, you are more than welcome to use this prompt to inspire your post. If you decide to write something, be sure to pingback to this post so that I can get an alert and check out your piece. (A post on how to do pingbacks can be found here.) If pingbacks are not your thing, feel free to simply leave a link to your piece in the comment section below. The more, the merrier!

Stay golden,

SGK signature.png

***

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Stay golden,

SGK signature.png

***

Did you enjoy reading this post?
Hit LIKE.
Have some thoughts on the topic?
Share in the COMMENTS.
Do you regularly enjoy my blog?
Be sure to FOLLOW.
Are my posts getting lost in your busy Reader?
Try SUBSCRIBING.
Want to get to know me better?
Check me out on TWITTER @SamGoldieKirk.

20 thoughts on “CW: A Secret Ingredient

Add yours

    1. I remember, years ago, hearing about someone dying because of a kiss. The person they kissed had eater nuts or peanutbutter or something like that before making out with them. Not sure if it’s a 100% true, but pretty scary indeed!

      If I had any major food allergy (that I knew of), I’d always asked the food preparer about it. However, I know there were instances in restaurants where the client is told “nooooo, it doesn’t contain that” or “I will tell them not to add it” and somehow that person still has an allergic reaction.

      A couple of months ago I saw a mother leave her two kids outside the store so she could ask the employee if there was anything blinking at the store. One of her children was prone to seizures and she wanted to make sure they were going to be ok. It was a busy street, but I thought what would happen if someone was to kidnap those kids during that brief moment when she left them unattended. She would avert one crisis but cause another.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. GAAAA! How chilling! For about the first third of the story, I was thinking, “Hmmm, Nathan’s grievances against the world sound an awful lot like Goldie’s. I bet Nathan is going to be a semi-auto-biographical character.”

    Well now I sure hope not lol! Unlike some of your other readers, I definitely did not see the dark twist coming. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

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