“Pass the ketchup,” she said softly.
He wordlessly complied, his left hand performing an autonomic stabbing of the air with the bottle, his hostility behind the gesture apparent to anyone with an emotional IQ beyond the single-digits. Yet she, somehow oblivious to his intent, took the bottle from his hand and thanked him.
His eyes stayed glued upon his meal: two scrambled eggs and some sliced strawberries resting upon an earth tone plate, 10 inches in diameter. There was a rooster design in the middle of it. Lately, his eyes had spent every second they could drinking in the details of that proud foul. Because if he wasn’t looking at what she was doing with her plate, it wasn’t happening, right?
Closing his eyes to the scene transpiring before him no more changed the reality of the outcome than a child turning his head from the movie screen right before Bambi’s mother is shot.
No, in front of him, whether he liked it or not, his wife of four years, two months pregnant with their firstborn, doused a pair of barely cooked sunny side up eggs with unrelenting volleys of ketchup, the volume of which would be at home in the final shot of animated Japanese pornography, shattering their thin membranes before gulping down the resulting 400 calories of kaleidoscopic nightmare fuel.
As her soup-like slurps began to fill his ears, thoughts of better days flooded his mind, seeking to protect his memory-forming neurons like antibodies. Days in which the pair had roundly mocked anyone that topped their eggs with ketchup as trash in mind, palate, and spirit,
He fought to remember. Up until eight weeks ago, she was his loving wife, who shared his hatred for eggs-on-ketchup. She was the gossamer blonde thread he’d happily chosen to weave into his life’s tapestry.
But everything can change in the span of eight weeks. An NFL team can go from 8-0 to 8-8 in that time (we’re ignoring the bye week for the sake of argument). A presidential candidate that dominated the Iowa caucuses can be out of the running in eight weeks. And an eight-week-old fetus, no larger than a raspberry, can instill in an adult woman the appetites of a ghoul.
It had to at least be considered. After all, this was not the woman he had married: It was some sort of ketchup-craving changeling that sucked down vomitous concoctions with the abandon of an orangutan working a plate of spaghetti. And no man should be forced to eat breakfast like this: eyes aiming downward like a POW doing everything they could to not match the gaze of a sadistic Kommandant. A day started off like that could only end in folly and despair.
Somewhere in there had to be the woman he once loved, right? And then it clicked, like a Magic Eye poster. Yes, yes his wife was still there, alive and well! The culprit in all of this was the blood clot infesting her womb! Why, his beloved was no more to blame than that little possessed girl in The Exorcist!
But how? How could he scour this interloper, that his wife apparently welcomed, from her frame? She had apparently grown close to the entity over these two months, routinely squawking as much before and after feeding the creature its foul morning repast.
Yes, the morning after was long ago, but maybe a pill for each morning after would do the trick? It had to be worth a shot. He had to give their marriage a chance. In the name of love everlasting.
As he did the mental math on just how many morning after pills that would take, and how exactly he’d feed them to her, he heard his wife exclaim “shit!” loudly. He looked up from Señor Pollo (he’d named the rooster 30 seconds prior) and saw that his wife had dropped a bit of ketchup-covered egg on her shirt.
Yet it wasn’t the egg that held his gaze: It was her breasts. Sometime in the prior eight weeks, they had grown to gigantic proportions. His gaze was stuck, his cheeks reddened, his mind rattled. A smile broke across his face like a toddler entering a circus.
They were more sorcery on the part of the fetus, a bartering chip intended as a survival mechanism. And as his heart thundered in his chest, he came to respect this audacious move on the part of his foe. How could he not? To understand an adversary and offer up the answer to a desire they didn’t even know they had? That was preternaturally shrewd.
The mental pill calculus gave way to declarations of respect in bold text. Yes, the entity driving his wife to inhale a meal repugnant to anyone with a sensible palate would live, for now. Because, even more than the love of a wife, a man needs a challenge to rise to. He sturdied his jaw and furrowed his brow. “Let the game of biological checkers begin.”