Runner-up in the 2022 Food-Writing Flash Contest


See: Love is…


1. Stuck on the kitchen ceiling.

a. You know that trick to see if pasta is cooked? The one where you throw a noodle at the wall to see if it sticks? I tried it once. With a boy. The kitchen was so warm that day, the warmest it’s ever been, I think. We scraped off our layers of fall piece by piece, under the slivers of angel hair we’d tossed up to the ceiling. They all came down, over time. Except for one. Sometimes I’ll lie on the tile and open my mouth, waiting for it to fall in. I wonder if it would taste like it did when it was fresh, if it would be warm and soft and slink around my tongue. Or maybe it’d taste like the boy who made it, like the cashews he ate in the afternoons or the chipotle aioli he’d put on his lunch. I’ll find out soon, I think. If I squint, just enough, I can see the noodle’s end curling towards me, stretching itself into my open mouth.


2. Giving me diabetes.

a. There’s a Corner Bakery a couple blocks from my office. I ran in three Thursdays ago for coffee before work. That’s when I saw her, behind the counter. She looked so warm, like being held by her might give me a fever. She brought out a carrot cake fresh from the kitchen and asked me if I took my coffee black. I said something stupid about carrots and she laughed, so I bought two slices of cake and went back the next morning (and then the next). Maple pecan bars, English toffee cookies, baby bundt cakes. I ate them all before noon. Last week she smiled so big her eyes almost closed, so I bought four cream cheese brownies. Those were my favorite. I took them in slowly, like I was being fed pieces of her with each bite. Each of her fingers, her toes, the scoop of her belly button. I wonder if hers is pierced. I wonder when she’ll find out that mine is.


3. A peeled apple.

a. Remember that scene in Sleepless in Seattle when Meg Ryan peels a whole apple in one go?

My mom can do that, too. The one-take peel. She’ll do it for me whenever we fight. We had a real blowout last August; it lasted a whole week. We both cried every day. We had to take breaks to hydrate. We’d say so many hateful things to each other and then drink our water and say more. And then we’d hit a wall, sometime near the Brita’s second or third refill, and she’d pull out the cutting board and start peeling. By the time she was done, our slates were clean. Then we’d do it all over. You know how many Granny Smiths I ate that week? 16.

Arya Naidu
Arya Naidu

Arya Naidu is a writer from St. Louis, Missouri. She is an MFA candidate at Arizona State University, where she serves as an associate editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review.