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Flash Fiction: Coagulation

In the eyes of his jealous lover, a man's love affair with cheese borders on infidelity.

In the eyes of his jealous lover, a man's love affair with cheese borders on infidelity.

He was obsessed with cheese. Any type would do. Some styles gave him more pleasure than others but there wasn’t a single fatty darling he didn’t adore. It started quite innocently at first – he seemed to make more toasted cheese sandwiches that winter and for the first time he began to buy savoury crisps and crackers. Then the slices on cheese sandwiches became thicker and the variety of cheese in the fridge was suddenly more extensive.

His addiction drove him into unfamiliar territory, browsing foreign flavours, wading through the low fog of refrigerated shelves in delicatessens, shivering slightly but always smiling as he sampled blue cheeses with fat varicose veins bulging from pungent mush. He salivated, letting his watering mouth submerge hard amber Edams and bullet-wounded Swiss.

His girlfriend tried ignoring his new preoccupation. She had forgiven his many OCD-driven affairs. He had fallen in and out of love with Brazilian Jujitsu, smoked fish, pointillism, antique furniture and duck hunting, to name a few. Over time the harmless obsessions always faded, and she’d come to consider them strange ways of gaining more attention. If that was the case, the transient infatuations were simply his way of reaching to her.

But his latest infatuation showed no signs of decay. She soon noticed it was escalating to a worrying phase. She was not the type of woman who could accept second-place; she was determined to curb his desire for dairy.

Gritting her teeth and muttering profanity, she removed any cheese that was remotely close to its expiry date, but he was well aware of his total inventory and immediately replaced any missing variety of cheese immediately. The colour yellow dominated the refrigerator, it reeked of the pungent aromas of vintage cheeses, and smeared plastic wrap hung from the white grill of shelves, rubbing against the bare skin of her arms every time she reached for fruit or margarine. Her hate was now as intense as his love.

She surprised him one night by leaving work early and sneaking into their home. As she peeked around the kitchen doorway, she was shocked to see how far his love for cheese had gone. There he was with one hand tightly gripping a block of cheddar, pants around his ankles, his other hand glazed with pate’, surely poised to perform an unspeakable act. It was the breaking point and as she gazed upon her boyfriend and his unlikely lover, she could no longer see yellow–she could only see red.

Moved by jealousy, she cleaned out the refrigerator and filled a garbage bag with every morsel of food. The bag was dragged into their bedroom as he watched, stunned. When she began spraying lighter-fuel over the precious foodstuffs, he panicked and lunged for the canister of gas. Being much stronger, she turned him away with a backhanded blow to the face, which instantly knocked her frail lover to the ground. He woke, being dragged out of the front door of their home as the smell of smoke and smoked-cheeses filled his nostrils. The ensuing blaze spread through three rooms of the house before the fire department could control it.

She seemed calm, sitting on the curb, watching the charred house smoulder, slowly nodding in the direction of the controlled blaze, but when a delivery truck emblazoned with an ad for cheese-flavoured corn chips drove past, she suffered a psychotic episode that led to the assault of a fireman. Thrown into a paddy wagon, she overheard a conversation between the two officers about cheesecake and kicked through the protective partition between her mobile cell and the back seat of the van. When she was given an evaluation, the French psychologist talked about the fire and innocently said it was lucky no one was injured by debris. Thinking he was referring to ‘the Brie’, she attempted to strangle him. Finally she was admitted to a home for the criminally insane.

Her former boyfriend now visits her once a week and brings a small basket packed with dips, fruit and crackers. After a terrible conflict involving a cheese platter, a nurse and a butter knife, her sentence has been extended by two years.

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