I’d never had lamb before, and it occurred to me that should I ever have to face a live one, sweet and small with dark, shining eyes and fluffy tufts (which I recalled I was supposed to keep counting for solace from the dark recesses of my daybed, deep beneath blankets), I’d not be able to take a bite. Besides, I was only twelve years old and felt adventurous, imagining myself a princess at some royal ball in a foreign place. As I pushed any nagging morals aside like the undercooked potatoes on my plate, there was a screech, something scraping against the china—not the tine of my fork and its simple metallic din but almost as horripilant. Sheba looked up from her food, her endless fingers elegantly balancing her utensils like delicate paintbrushes fashioning Chinese calligraphy. There were Asian accents placed expertly throughout the Winters’ house; Diane was an interior designer and had fashioned our meal that night: sweet Moroccan lamb, rosemary potatoes, some sort of lake-green vegetable my palate could not translate, and a generic starter salad (to be sure we’d eat something). My mother cleaned the Winters’ house, but Sheba and I, being close in age, had become friends and had frequent sleepovers. She was an exotic and cultured girl. I was imaginative, and read a lot, thereby inhabiting from the comfort of our one-bedroom apartment all the places I may never actually be able to see. We both loved Bon Jovi.
Sorting through the entrée, my fork finally revealed a glimmer from a piece of lamb. It looked like a small gemstone was hidden inside…had I discovered a secret bit of riches? My mind wandered down future paths scattered with opulent imagery from books, poems, and films I loved: “Treasure Island”; “The Little Princess”; “Jewel of the Nile”, “El Dorado”. Sheba looked over at what I was unearthing. “Mom, Joann’s food has something in it!” Her mother glanced across the table, one eyebrow lifted, to see what we were getting at. Surely there was nothing offensive in this divine meal. Upon cutting around the obstruction, I lifted my plate as Diane walked over to inspect it, only to find the broken bulb from a mercury thermometer.
—Joann K. Deiudicibus is a Composition Program Assistant at State University of New York, New Paltz