Madame de Douceur, Mon Amour
The wooden spoon I dip into her centre emerges thickly coated in her essence, daintily sugar-speckled. And down she drizzles, onto my waiting finger. You feel cooler than I remember, I think to myself. She hears me all the same. Memory likes to play tricks on you, my dear. So that you all but forget me, so that you desire me always, so that I never grow old or tiresome. I raise her to my lips as she trickles down the length of my index finger, sugar crystals clinging intimately to my skin. The moment I have most longed for.
Her flavour, it strikes my palate with the force of a memory so long forgotten, so magically remembered in every detail. Chocolate kisses, so sinfully, sinfully sweet, coat my lips, the sugary graininess melts between my taste buds. So unbelievably exquisite, so painfully beautiful is she! I savour my first, drawing my finger out slowly, trying to extract every particle. But there, she still sticks to me in tiny granules with a teasing persistence. Had we but world enough and time, this coyness, Batter, were no crime. But we do not, I tell her as I pour still more over her essence over my hand. And so she complies, squeezing all her strength and all her sweetness into tiny globes, which roll down my finger and explode between my tongue and palate again and again and again.
“Oy! Ugh! Every time, you do this every single time! Do you know that you just gobbled up enough batter for TWO WHOLE BROWNIES?”
Sigh. The nagging background buzz of brownie-lovers. Batter is not meant to be eaten. Batter is meant to be baked. And we are waiting. Do they not see? Brownies cannot be trusted. Fickle things, they are; puffing up and sinking down and turning black in all of five minutes. And you can never tell exactly which five minutes those are going to be. And no two batches are the same. But Brownie Batter: you simply cannot go wrong with her. But no, conventional culinary ethics must leave the world ignorant of her tantalizing charms. Lord, what fools these mortals be!
But the Voice of Reason, her Voice of Reason gently interrupts my indignant train of thought. I wasn't going to be here forever anyways. It's what I was made for, after all, love. You know that. Besides, you aren't losing me for good. So go on, pour me into the baking dish. See shimmers up at me, accepting of her fate. Always the sensible one.
So I pour her onto the greased baking parchment and she falls, sunlight from the kitchen windows shining through her, and watching with me as her thin layers fold over each other and the spreads to the four corners of the dish, settling smoothly with her characteristic dignity, even as the prospect of being baked looms before her in all its uncertainty.
There remains of her only fingers of Batter clutching the sides of her orange vessel. Just like her; she always makes sure a little stays behind. Her way of working with the loopholes in said conventional culinary ethics. No one said anything about not scraping the bowl, the sugar grains wink up at me. So again, we sit together, to appreciate the wonder that she is. No one has any right to bother us now.
You know, I muse, pensively scraping Brownie Batter off the edge of the bowl, we really should do something about those preconceived ideas about brownie batter. You deserve that much, at least. What do you suggest, Delicious One? She curls softly around my finger in reply and looks up. I wouldn't be yours anymore then.
“Oh God, not again! Grow up! Kids stop doing that stuff at Six!”
No! Cruel, callous hands grab her off the table, out of my reach, whisk her into the kitchen. But there's still some batter left! I'll sterilize the bowl once I'm done! The hands don't even twitch. I watch, helplessly, as a jet of water shoots out of the kitchen tap, rinsing her out maliciously. And there she goes.
All that sweetness, that promise…I turn away, disgusted at myself and the state of things. “Full many a drop of brownie batter is mixed to lie unscraped, And waste its sweetness in the kitchen sink.” But such is the nature of truth
By Risana Nahreen Malik
One fine day in the middle of the night
One fine day in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight,
William Connor, head of a mercenary agency had never been able to impress the inexorable Finlay Dawson, a man he'd always hated and looked up to with equal fervour. When Dawson actually seeks him out for his new contract - the hijacking of a private party on an oil rig, he's giddy with happiness. This is his chance to shine, even though he isn't completely confident about his crew, who are as likely to shoot each other as any of their targets.
A gloat-fest for one man, and a simple mission for a team. Neither party figured in the presence of certain uninvited guests would make a mockery of the best laid plans. Just as Hutchison realises to his chagrin, that, in spite of all his preparations, he is still invisible, what was supposed to be a cakewalk for Connor and his team turns into a nightmare of a bloodbath as some of those 'easy' marks decide to fight back.
A deaf policeman heard the noise,
And came to arrest the two dead boys,
Hector McGregor, former Lothian and Borders police inspector, has the first day of his retirement rudely interrupted when the fisted hand of a disembodied arm plummets from the sky and knocks him unconscious. When he goes to report the incident, instead of investigating the possible reasons behind the rain of body parts, the authorities subject him to a humiliating interrogation. When he hears explosions in the sky that night, he is annoyed enough to go and investigate...in his pajamas.
By Sabrina F Ahmad
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