The Last Slice
Oh, last slice of baklava. Tonight, I am being good. I finish devouring your sister and fold up my napkin. That’s it; no more. But as I reach out to close your plastic shell, you whisper, “See how the light gleams in the pooled honey next to my wrapper.”
It’s true. The honey does gleam, lying there in sweet half-globes. It seems dark against the black plastic, but I know that if I should happen to get some on my finger and hold it up to the light, it would be yellow. Yellow, sticky, and so sweet. I still have the sweetness on my tongue from the slice I ate.
But I am done for the night. I want to sleep soon, and if I have more sugar it will keep me up. I shut your container and push it to the edge of my desk, turn away and begin closing tabs in my Internet browser. I reach for my water, next to you, and happen to look down.
“Oh, no!” you say. “Look–one of my crisp layers of honey-soaked dough has broken. It’s practically falling off. You wouldn’t leave me looking so untidy, would you? If you cleaned up this tiny piece, just this one, nobody would know.”
I see the offending flake of filo dough. Before I think, I’ve opened the container and I’m reaching for it. What difference would one little piece of flour and sugar make to my diet, anyway? I just had a full slice; this thin wafer will not tip the scales at all. I peel the flake away and pop it into my mouth, and that tiny taste reminds me how delicious you are. My mouth waters all over again.
I examine you carefully. Is it possible that another piece is askew? I could peel it off just as easily. You would look the same. It would be, what, one calorie? Two? As I deliberate, I suck the honey from my fingers.
If I had another flake, why not another after that? Why not peel every thin piece of dough off, one by one? Each one is so small, practically weightless. If I eat one layer, if I begin this second piece, what would stop me from just eating all of you?
You shine with honey, golden against your black throne, oozing promises of sugary bliss.
Oh, grocery store baklava. Why do you come in packs of four? Isn’t it bad enough that I cannot keep myself from purchasing one of you? Why must you divide yourself and taunt me again, again, and again, until I stuff myself past satiation and still want more? Why must you flaunt your power over me? Why do I come back, over and over?
But I can resist. You will see. I snap your sticky black container shut and shove it back on the shelf, out of arm’s reach. I will not eat you tonight. I will turn out the light, close the door, brush my teeth, and slide into bed next to my husband. I will sleep. And if I wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, I will not creep into my office in the dark, following the siren smell of sugar, and slide a certain black container off of the shelf. I will not crack it open carefully, quietly, so that my husband cannot hear. I will not reach inside and feel the rough edges of paper-thin dough as I peel away the syrupy wrapper. I will not take that first bite, bending and then cracking the stacked filo slices against my teeth. I will not close my eyes against your sweet explosion on my tongue, honey and crisp dough laced with faint traces of pistachio. I will not lick my fingers afterwards.
It’s no use, of course. You sit there, a smug triangle of seduction. I could throw you in the trash outside, pile a rain-soaked brick on top, and run away through the puddles in damp slippers. I could leave you out for the raccoons. I could even wake up my husband and insist he eat you, destroy you, flush you down the toilet, just please, God, take this thing away from me so I can go to sleep already.
But I won’t. You have me, the fool who was stupid enough to pick you and your sisters up off of the bakery shelf, the idiot who thought she could have one slice and say “enough.” And you know it.
— UPDATE —
Guess what my husband brought home tonight?
That sound you are hearing is my diet crawling under the desk and waving a small, shredded white flag. It may or may not have honey smeared on one corner.
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