Soup’s On

Runner-up in the 2022 Food-Writing Flash Contest

“I’m. Through. Talking. About. This!” Nadine spoke through gritted teeth as she chopped an onion on her cutting board. She paused and pointed her knife in Kelli’s direction. “My recipe for shrimp bisque is legendary and I’m not taking a back seat to you or anyone else!” She set the onion aside and began dicing a celery stalk.

“Oh, give me a break!” Kelli rolled her eyes and placed her hands on her hips. “‘Legendary?’ It’s soup, not the food of the gods. My shrimp scampi is perfection. David loves it and always asks for seconds. The library cookbook committee will clearly select it over a Campbell’s wannabe.

“Think of it as your All about Eve moment. You had your time. Now it’s my time, as the much younger newcomer, to be the damn star.” She raised her left hand and brushed her hair away from her forehead, making sure the 8-carat emerald-cut diamond on her ring finger caught the light and Nadine’s eye.

The hairs on Nadine’s neck stood up, and she took a breath. She scooped up the onion and celery and added them to the saucepan already containing butter. Turning on the heat, she stirred the ingredients and glanced over at Kelli.

“Why did you come over? Did you think I’d back out? I’ve lived here for 25 years. I’m past president of the Friends of the Library, published two committee cookbooks, and raised thousands of dollars. No contest between us, dear. Maybe you can submit your recipe for cereal. I heard you really know how to pour on the sugar.”

“Ha! If you knew how to pour on the sugar, you’d still be married to David.”

Nadine shook her head and added shrimp and diced mushrooms to the saucepan. “You took my husband, but you’re not married yet, so cut the crap.” She added chicken broth, cream, paprika, nutmeg, salt, and sherry to the pan, taking a hit of sherry before putting the stopper back in.

“This is almost done, and so am I. I’d like you to leave.”

“I’m going to win, you know.” Kelli pulled herself up to her full 5 feet 2 inches and stuck out her chest, the one David had paid to enhance. “I’ve won everything so far, haven’t I?”

“No. No, you haven’t. See where you are? You’re at my house. The one with the three-million-dollar ocean and coastline views, paid for and all in my name, while you and he are sharing a one-bedroom rental.” Nadine smiled, took a glass jar, filled it with shrimp bisque, tightened the lid, and handed it to Kelli.

“Here you go. Enjoy, but don’t give any to David. He’s allergic and will go into anaphylactic shock, but you know that, right? Yeah, your ‘perfect’ shrimp scampi would be a real buzzkill.”

Kelli took the jar. Nadine walked to the door, opened it, and watched Kelli leave. Closing the door, she channeled her inner Bette Davis: “Everybody has a heart. Except some people.”

Laurie Miller
Laurie Miller

Laurie Miller lives in Southern California with her husband and three-legged rescue cat, Ruby. She recently retired after a successful 30-year career as a development director and grant writer, having raised millions of dollars for college access, foster child advocacy, arts, and educational non-profits. She is currently working on her first novel, which will include many of the things she’s most passionate about: family, food, rescue animals, and second chances.