I watch plump red cranberries bob in the thick syrup. Pop! Their soft flesh bursts through taut skin.
Once upon a time, cranberry sauce was my favorite. I haven’t been able to taste it in a very long while, but I still adore the smell. It brings back memories: the fruit’s mealy texture on my tongue; the tangy sweetness of the finished dish.
My guest approaches me from behind and places his hands on my hips. “Cranberry sauce,” he says. “I didn’t think anyone cooked that outside of Thanksgiving.”
I look over my shoulder and see him smile. He has beautiful teeth, long and white. Must be an aspiring actor, like so many around here.
“Homey food makes people comfortable,” I say.
He loops one arm around my waist and pulls me close, then slowly pushes my hair to the side. “I’m getting more comfortable by the minute,” he whispers. His breath is hot of my neck, lips soft and grazing.
I tremble. I never tremble.
“Dinner’s almost ready,” I say. “Could you pour us some wine? Glasses are on the top shelf. You can set up in the living room.”
He briefly hesitates before he lets go of me, then grabs a bottle and two glasses, and leaves the kitchen.
I need him away. I’m about to put the most important ingredient into the sauce.
It’s been an hour since dinner ended. He had polished off his chicken, potatoes, and a huge helping of cranberry sauce.
He should be out cold by now. Why isn’t he out?
We’re sitting on the floor, leaning against the sofa. His elbow rests on the cushion behind my head, fingers buried in my hair.
He leans forward. I smell the wine and cranberries on his breath, and feel a pang of longing for the taste.
“So you bring guys like me to your place,” he says. “Get them nice and comfortable, feed them a dinner they might’ve eaten as kids…”
My eyes widen in surprise, but I remain still.
“The cranberry sauce is a nice touch. It masks the bitterness of the tincture you used. I might steal that trick myself.”
I swallow hard. “What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that I know what you are,” he says, “and I’ve never been more intrigued.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
He grabs the back of my neck.
“Yes, you do. You and I are the same. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met one of our kind before, let alone one who smells…” He buries his nose in my neck and inhales deeply. “So delicious.”
I know exactly what he means. “You smell to die for, too,” I say, and, for once, I’m being honest.
His gaze turns intense. “This is the first time I want to devour someone…metaphorically. Someone like me. I wonder how that would feel.”
I run one finger along his lower lip. His breath hitches. “Let’s find out,” I whisper, and bite his lip until it bleeds.
Maura Yzmore writes scary fiction and even scarier equations somewhere in the Midwest. Her literary flash has appeared in trampset, BULL, and Bending Genres, and her genre fiction in Flash Fiction Online, The Arcanist, and Wyldblood. She’s a member of the HWA. Website: https://maurayzmore.com Twitter: @MauraYzmore.