As Amantha carefully diced the spleen, she caught herself. Lost in the preparation of the meal, she absently sang a song under her breath. Normally, this wouldn’t have been a problem but she was doing it in her native tongue, a dead language that might have revealed her true identity, had anyone heard it. Not that they’d have been able to pinpoint what she was exactly, but they would have sussed she wasn’t what she appeared to be.
She bit the inside of her cheek as she marinated the kidneys, the pain and the coppery tang of blood in her mouth served as a reminder to be more cautious. The head that had been severed and chilled on ice overnight to preserve its freshness, was placed in the stewpot to dissolve in a broth that smelled faintly of sulfur. She would have to remember to do the same with the hands and feet and all the other body parts that couldn’t be disguised as normal cuts of meat.
Anal to a fault, Amantha arranged all the innards neatly on the countertop and went to work on deboning the torso and limbs, the bones of which would join the head in the liquefying broth. She knew she had plenty of time to get rid of the evidence, but she also wanted time to get dressed and made up before Onathan arrived. It was their one year anniversary and she wanted the meal to go without a hitch because she suspected he was going to propose tonight.
“He’s going to propose tonight,” she let slip aloud as she slit open the intestines to clean them. If only she had studied the language better, none of this food preparation would have been necessary.
Onathan’s mother was an important figure in his life, more a best friend than a parent, and he wanted to include her in the anniversary celebration, which Amantha had no problem with because she enjoyed the old woman’s company, she just wished he had phrased his wish differently.
His exact words were, “Do you mind if we had Mom over for dinner? It’s a special night that I want to share with her. Since Dad died, she’s been alone in that house and it’s not good for her.”
“Of course, I don’t mind,” Amantha answered, playing the question over and over in her mind. “If you’re sure that’s what you want.”
“You’re amazing. I can’t believe how understanding you are.” Onathan pulled her into him and gave her the biggest kiss. Surely, she had gotten it right this time. The kiss made her confident that her first interpretation was accurate.
Amantha called Onathan’s mother over late last night after he had gone to bed and she came without question or hesitation. Either she was the most selfless person on the planet or she truly was lonely in that big house all by herself. This would be a good thing.
No stranger to the procedure, Amantha treated her hopefully soon-to-be-late mother-in-law to refreshments laced with a two-part toxin. The first substance was mixed into the pâte sucrée and would have passed through her system harmlessly, had it not bonded with the chemical placed in the sherry. Death was instantaneous and painless.
The phone rang not a few seconds later. It was her mother. When Amantha relayed the news and what Onathan asked and what she had done, there was silence on the other end of the line.
A chill ran down Amantha’s spine. Before her mother said a word, she knew she had gotten it wrong once again. English was such a bastard of a tricky language.
“These humans, they’re not like us, Ammie,” her mother said. “Relatives do not sacrifice themselves for celebration feasts nor do they feel pride in eating kin.”
“But what am I going to do, Mother?” the rising panic made her body quake.
“Are you sure she’s dead?”
Amantha prodded the old woman’s arm with her shoe. “No doubt about it. I followed your recipe to the letter.”
“Looks like you have no choice but to tell him the truth.”
“The truth? I can’t do that! Hi, honey, remember your mother? I killed her by mistake last night, sorry. He’ll never marry me now!”
“Then play ignorant,” her mother suggested. “Human females do it all the time.”
“And what about the body?”
“It isn’t a body anymore, it’s evidence. If you intend to live a lie, you’ll have to get rid of it.”
“I can’t move the body, somebody will see me!”
“Who said anything about moving the body?” her mother said nothing further, waiting patiently for her daughter to catch on.
“You mean cook her?”
“You were going to do it anyway.”
“I–I can’t. That would be wrong.”
Turned out she could. After hours of playing out scenarios in her head, she decided she couldn’t live without Onathan and he wouldn’t want to live with her if he found out the truth.
The difficult part was hiding the body until Onathan left for work in the morning. Amantha thought she had tipped her hand when she rushed him through breakfast and out the door. One of his mother’s earrings was on the kitchen floor, right beside his shoe! It was so close that if she made any move to retrieve it, he would have noticed.
But all that was behind her now, as she opened the refrigerator to get the older woman’s eyeballs to mash into a jelly topping for the dessert. But they weren’t there. She searched everywhere she hid body parts, everywhere they could have rolled but there were no eyeballs! She distinctly remembered plucking them out of their sockets last night.
How could she have misplaced them? Amantha knew she had to find them before Onathan came home in two hours. She threw herself into overdrive and tore the house apart, all the while cursing herself for not being more careful. The last thing she wanted was to have Onathan accidentally stumble upon one of the elusive orbs. He might not recognize it as one of his mother’s, but at the end of the day, it was a human eye and while she didn’t completely understand human culture, she was sure finding random eyeballs in your house wasn’t a common practice.
Amantha finally found them, yes, in the refrigerator. They somehow managed to roll off the saucer and landed in the crisper. She breathed a sigh of relief… until she looked at the clock; Onathan was going to be home in less than an hour, and she not only hadn’t finished dinner yet but now the house was a complete mess.
She prepared the dessert in record time and then hopped on the massive chore of tidying up the house. Just as she put the finishing touches on her makeup, the doorbell rang.
Amantha sat on pins and needles the entire dinner. What if he recognized his mother’s taste? A silly concern but it plagued her nonetheless.
Onathan seemed nervous as well, his eye constantly checking the wall clock or shooting over his shoulder to the front door. It didn’t stop him from enjoying the meal and he ate everything placed before him. At the end of the meal. he accidentally knocked his fork on the floor. Amantha was about to comment on how clumsy he was when he came up on one knee with a ring in his hand. “I was going to wait until mother arrived, but I feel now’s the perfect time, after the perfect meal.”
And that was all it took. The dam of emotions she tried to suppress all evening burst wide open and Amantha began to cry uncontrollably.
“D-did I do something wrong?” Onathan said, confused. “I thought you wanted this?”
“No, no, I do want this,” she said, her breath hitching. “Just not this way.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s not you, you’re fine. Really, really fine. It’s me. I have something to tell you.”