Just you and me. The director asked us to stare each other down. I almost blushed. I knew you would be my ultimate foe. I know my foes like I know my knives. Yours were beautiful. Sleek, simple, tasteful. Sharpened to minute perfection. The best knives a cook could have. Except a little more sweet.
Miyo. A name like kittens rolling on a rug.
They took their time filming the scene. You had no love for me. I straightened, sweated, struggled to strike out as calm, collected, instead felt like a chicken with its belly slit on your chopping board. I craved a laugh in those black ice eyes, wondered at the image. Wanted a smile, a flash of white, a girl somehow appearing beneath that determined façade, giggling, cute, falling like flour so freely tossed in my hands.
Miyo bowed, I nodded.
“Timer begins… Now!”
Fires flared, pans heated, sugar melted and browned, machines whined and protested under the pressure of ice cream folds and milky licks. I crafted, calculated, poured, mixed, beat, pinched together flavors and spices like an artist painting a passionate scene. You and I we knew our skill and swirled unhindered seamless across the kitchen focused and fluid I might have swung you in an arm and kissed you before flying back to smoke and flame not a breath wasted.
We pause. Director wanted a shot of the sweets in all their half-done ugliness. Miyo I yearned to say something funny hear you laugh yet toyed with jokes in my mouth like badly seasoned food. Strip me again with that unkind gaze I sweat beneath this uniform a clumsy boy with silly dreams while you, you stand like a strike-box deity.
They’ve taken the shots. The game resumes I set aside my pines and fine tune these fingers until they’ve set a sweet so tart and crisp a woman could die on first taste.
I pull back. I pant. We both fell as people do frightened and flushed, swamped in everything so wrong and thrilling like riding a coaster just a little bit broken but oh much more exciting. The end, we lived, we smiled. Miyo you smile like children laughing in a sunlit hall I might have fallen to one knee and asked for eternities spent with you.
I watched my creation picked and licked and imagined how spice and sugar danced on critical tongue. You barely breathed. I worried more for how you fared, what you thought, how you wanted, wished, waited.
My name was called.
I unraveled like a stretched coil, ruined and released at the same time. A bed of money now grinned like coals burning my pocket.
Sometimes a boy will fight and fight a girl he truly likes. And then he wins. You hate it. The guilt, shame, worry. A girl so lovely you’ve hurt like crushing sweet things in your hand. I turned to her, cheers mute, just some beat in my ear. Miyo.
She bowed. I exhaled. A breath of worry, a bashful smile. A step forward.
I burned a bright red and felt the world could get no better than this.