the senseless challenge, week 4: taste (Leila)

For week 4 of the Senseless Challenge, I’m sharing a bit from my working draft of Leila’s story, A Thousand Simple Truths. I’m not sure where exactly this will show up in the final draft of the book, but I’ve always wanted to find a place for it somewhere in there. I was in a silly mood when I first wrote it, and an even sillier mood when I revised and enriched it. Every book needs a bit of levity.

In second person because I’m a rebel! 😉

You know you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You know this. But you’re not eating any cake. You’re just thinking about it, considering it, leaning in to test the aroma. And it smells, so, so good. It could be your new favorite kind of cake, a flavor you never knew existed and wouldn’t have known how to look for before it showed up here, burst into your world in an explosion of warmth and flavor and spice. You spent your whole adult life thinking your favorite flavor was strawberry cheesecake — a perfectly respectable cake to enjoy — but how could you have known that your actual favorite was cinnamon chili chocolate crumble if you’d never seen it before?

You didn’t ask to find it. It was just placed here in your hands. First, you take a good strong whiff. The chili burns your nose while the cinnamon makes your lips tingle. Your eyes water. The texture looks crunchy on the outside but you can see through the cracks how moist it is on the inside. The rich, dark chocolate promises a decadence you know you’ve never had before. You can almost feel the crumble on your tongue. You can almost feel it stuck to your soft palate, sticky and thick, your whole mouth full. You might be salivating, but you’re not eating any cake.

Because a woman in your position should not be trying a new flavor of cake. A woman in your position should stick with the strawberry cheesecake, a tested old favorite, steady and true. A woman in your position is lucky to be stuck with strawberry cheesecake at all. It could have been worse — yellow sponge, or angel food. You could be stuck with gluten-free.

Because the thing is this: you might really love that cinnamon chili chocolate crumble. It might be made just for you, sent from the universe to your tongue on a fork straight from the gods. But what good is one little bite of cake if it ruins everything? What good is a whole slice of cake if you can never, ever have it again?

You know this isn’t about cake, of course. This is about a man.