Marjorie Carlson Davis
Flash Fiction Winner

Mashed potatoes. Leathery pork. Bread. Tasteless and white as their bed sheets, the stark walls of their house.

Delilah sighed and plopped the plate in front of George, in front of the ever-present newspaper with war news. Sometimes she thought life had been easier when he was on tour of duty.

A fork snaked out, scooped up potatoes, and Delilah held her breath. Thinking of the paprika. Just a pinch. Just a sprinkle of red swirled into the white pulp.

The newspaper crinkled down.

This taste funny, George grumbled. Did the butter or milk spoil?

Delilah shook her head, flickered her eyelashes like Betty Grable.

George gulped water and disappeared behind the newspaper.

Delilah let potatoes rest on her tongue, taste buds searching out the sting of paprika. She'd been waking each morning with her mouth on fire, after dreaming of exotic spices, hot peppers, craving something with a little kick, something with zip and pizzazz. The magazines talked of catering to your man, despite rationing, with angel food cakes, sweet and pale, air-filled desserts.

But Delilah was bored with 1941, with colorless, flat foods, with George and his newspaper, the war. Damn rationing and sweet spongy cakes. Delilah sought to renew her marriage with zest and spice. Fire things up or else she believed she would smother. Paprika was just a start. Tomorrow, horseradish in the rice, and that extra hot pepper growing in the garden.

First published: August, 2006
comments to the writer: Knob'