Mushrooms—the item that first made Bridget suspicious of her stepmother’s list, for edible mushrooms grew all about their house in the forest.
Cigarettes (Marlboro Reds), which triggered Bridget’s comment to her stepmother, “Why should I pick these up for you when my father once asked you not to smoke around me?”
Chocolate milk. This Bridget’s stepmother added to the list with the remark, “Maybe if I let you get your little girl drink you’ll let me buy my cigarettes.”
Tampons, which could also be of use to Bridget, who was a tall, crimson-haired beauty at the age of 19.
Large heavy duty garbage bags (preferably black). These caused Bridget to wonder as she started from the house into a shadowy autumn forest colored in yellows, oranges, and reds.
Tomato sauce—something Bridget’s deceased mother would have made instead of bought, and something Bridget considered making only to remind her father that her stepmother was a terrible substitute for the woman they’d lost to cancer.
Garlic. Bridget wished she already possessed some cloves—or even a necklace of them—when she saw the shadowy, hooded figure lumbering toward her on the leafy path.
Salt. Bridget spotted the word as she glanced down at the list to avoid eye contact with the stranger, who passed her and continued in the direction of the house.
Red wine, which caused Bridget to think of her zealous boyfriend, and his pleading with her at the local tavern the night before: “Why live with that witch of a stepmom and your delusional old dad when you can move to a university town with me?”
Drano. This Bridget thought of at the edge of the village, where she passed the little scummy pond in which her stepmother often swam naked.
Oysters. Bridget was going to stop by her father’s butcher shop and ask him about the necessity of these when she noticed a CLOSED sign hanging from the front window.
Carrots, which Bridget was depositing into a plastic bag as the grocer neared and said, “I seem to remember your mother wearing that same flower print dress when she was alive.”
A can of cooking spray. Bridget bagged this item herself rather than respond to the comment from the grocer’s wife: “Live with your father too long, sweetie, and you’ll go stale.”
Dark chocolate Kisses, some of which Bridget ate as she hurried back to the house, worrying about the whereabouts of her father.
Two onions. Chopping these always brought on tears for Bridget, but today she cried after seeing that the hooded man at the kitchen table was her father, and that he was missing both of his eyeballs.
A can of mixed nuts, which rattled when Bridget dropped the grocery bags and screamed at her sneering stepmother, “What have you done with his eyes?”
A bottle of bleach. This Bridget tripped over after her father picked up his butcher knife from the kitchen table and stomped toward her.
Flour. The bag burst open as Bridget fell shrieking to the floor, and her blood soon mixed with the white powder.
Apples (any color). Bridget’s stepmother looked from her obedient husband to the oven, which contained a tray full of Bridget’s cooking remains, and said, “I don’t understand how that girl could forget the apples."
Copyright: © 2010 David Massengill
David Massengill doesn't cook. His short stories and works of flash fiction have appeared in various literary journals, including Word Riot, 3 A.M. Magazine, Eclectica Magazine, Pulp Metal Magazine, Tainted Tea, Flashes in the Dark, and MicroHorror, among others. His Web site is www.davidmassengillfiction.com.