"I hope you all don't mind but I tried something new." Fredrick was almost bubbly this evening as he placed the plates of food before us. It was slow going because he only had the one arm and his prosthetic right leg below the knew was just a touch too short. "I experimented with the White #16 and Yellow #5 to make a something like mashed potatoes. I think they came out pretty well. Not that I can actually remember what potatoes even tasted like." Fredrick laughed and everyone else politely laughed along with him. Except me. I wasn't in the mood to laugh.
Out of the five of us, Fredrick was the best cook and, as always, he managed to make the processed "food" elements that gave us most of our nutrients into something that actually looked like food. And since it was Friday night, we were actually having our special dinner with real meat. And, in spite of myself, it smelled delicious.
Jessica looked done at the thin slices. "Barbecue? You made barbecue sauce?"
Fredrick sat down and tucked his clothe napkin into the front of his shirt. Something about that felt vulgar to me. Tacky. Disrespectful. "Yep. Not only that but...." With a flourish, he removed the lid from ceramic dish on the table to reveal a thick brown fluid.
Peter leaned over and stuck the tip of his pinkie in it and stuck it in his mouth to taste. I restrained the need to wince. "Gravy!"
"Yes," said Fredrick with obvious pride. "Yeah, I know that barbecue and gravy don't really go together but I thought it might make the potatoes feel more like potatoes." And with that he took a large spoonful and dripped it unto the mound of white on his plate.
Looking at the four of them, I could see the anticipation and hunger in their eyes as they readied themselves to dig in. We rarely stood on any sort of ceremony but this was Friday night dinner. Fredrick was staring at me with that stupid grin on his face. In someways, I was glad that he was to cook tonight since I knew the meal would be excellent. But it irked me the joy he took in it. Cooking Friday dinner always bothered the rest of us but not Fredrick.
The others awkwardly avoided my gaze which also made me mad. I suppose it was a no win for them and me. I looked down at my plate, both ravenous and nauseous. The meat looked so delicious, lined with crispy fat and red with juices. My stomach ached at the smell but my head rebelled at the thought.
Fredrick coughed. I looked up at his questioning but smiling face. I knew he didn't mean it, but I felt like I was being mocked. I took a deep breath, knowing my roll. "We thank you, Fredrick, for preparing tonight's meal," I said in measured tones.
He, in response, said brightly, "And we thank you, Noah, for providing it." And with that they began eat.
We rationed the food substitutes we had slowly, keeping ourselves alive a long as possible. We had no idea what we might be waiting for since we hadn't had contact with anyone in months and were isolated. The last communication we'd had was jumbled and confused. We could only guess when (or if ever) they'd be able to mount a rescue. After six months, we'd realized that there was a gap in the nutrients, some type of protein we weren't getting. So we'd come up with this solution.
I suppose it was an extra special Friday. When our turn came up, we got to chose what got provided for the meal. And I, unlike Fredrick, was not ready to give up an arm yet. So this was our first thigh as my shins had been offered up on my previous turns. I knew that the extra meat made this a large meal. And all that fat rendered down made the gravy possible.
The pain from the surgery still hurt. I looked down at the bandages just below my right hip, where my leg had been just 24 hours before. I refused to take any more painkillers because if I was going to have this meal, I wanted to be able to at least taste it since we had so few pleasures.
I pushed past my disgust and cut a piece of the succulent me. Spear it with my fork I slowly drew it to my mouth and held it on my tongue.