This is another installment in the short story I’ve been working on. It’s an attempt to create a feel-good intermission in a tragicomedy.
The day after being released from her duties at Wine and Dine, Mona did as any strong, independent woman would do and practiced yoga on her balcony before the rising sun.
At eight in the morning, Miami traffic drowned out the songbirds, and the scent of orange chai brewing on the tabletop was overwhelmed by remnants of yesterday’s Gulf Coast catch rotting in back-alley dumpsters.
Yet Mona smiled as she performed salutations to the sky, her heart beating in tandem with the mp3 mimicry of ocean waves crashing upon the beach. Nothing should be quite as cathartic as sudden unemployment. She thought about jogging in the park, dancing in the dark and spending hours at the record store, just browsing. She imagined the world unobstructed by deadlines, and shuddered, unsettled by a sudden excess of freedom.
According to Guru Choudhury, the five steps to Creating a Better You includes identifying the toxic elements of one’s life, making reparations, wiping the slate clean, setting clear goals and visualizing success.
Thus in making a serious bid for DIY soul-searching, Mona first acknowledged her hunger.
Since she began to headline Wine and Dine nearly a decade ago, she ate little more than morsels in between sips of citrus water. In her prime, Mona could leave multiple-course dinners with her appetite piqued and her stomach empty, yet the maître d’ would watch her receding back with bated breath because gauntness in a critic was testament to her authority.
It was acceptance of this hunger which drove Mona all over the city in search of food, to the Chevalier Wine Cellar and the midtown Cheese Course. It led her to the fish farm on South Beach for shrimp and sashimi, then down to the farmer’s market on Sunset Drive where ripening fruits overflowing from their crates fermented in the street. She spent days filling her fridge with the delicacies of the sea and shore, ran her heels down to the sole hauling grocery bags alive with angry lobsters.
Step two entailed cooking and eating. Mona spent the next several weeks crushing tomatoes on the vine into caramelized onions, barding filet de bœuf with bacon grease and simmering capon breast in virgin olive oil while shaving white truffle over sautéed Mediterranean vegetables. She gained a healthy twenty pounds in the course of a month, elevating her BMI to an only moderately underweight status.
Besides cooking and eating, Mona even went so far as to blog about freelancing food. Some supporters of her old column made the transition, though other cyber anons preferred to bring up the reasons for her termination in ill-natured jest. In the meantime, the good Guru published Turning a Blind Eye to Anger, which she ordered. After that, she terminated the blog and seriously considered starting work on a memoir or throwing a plastic-ware party.