— Instructional booklet distributed by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which declares, "It's important to know how to cook (meat) electronically to prevent shrinkage."

DAY EIGHT: THE ATKINS DIET
By Kathy Fish


"What do you want for breakfast?" I ask her.

"What are my options?"

"May I slap you? Eggs and bacon or eggs and sausage or eggs and both bacon and sausage or I could make an omelet out of eggs, bacon or sausage. All of this I can smother in cheese if you like."

She does this thing with her mouth.

"Are you smirking at me?" I ask. How I despise her bacony ass.

"I guess I'll have the omelet," she says, like she's at Denny's.

"I'd like to smear your face with bacon grease."

"Fuck you. I'll make it myself."

She pulls the pans out of the cupboard and slams them onto the stovetop. My head throbs. She's standing there now with her hands out, like she expects me to throw the food to her.

"The refrigerator."

"What?"

"The eggs. The bacon. The sausage. In the fridge."

"What kind of idiot do you think I am?"

"First class."

She flips me the finger. She gets the stuff out of the fridge and sets it on the counter. She's looking at it like she wants to puke.

"Do you think I look thinner?" She asks.

"Nope."

Next thing I know, she's got the Folger's can in her hand. It's half-filled with congealed grease. She's cocking it back.

"You wouldn't," I say.

The thing whirs past my ear and pings the wall.

"Jesus, that shit looks like brains," she says. It's all over the walls, the floor, the countertop.

I open the freezer.

"What are you doing?"

I pull out the frozen loaf of pumpernickel. It resembles a packaged turd. I'm tearing at the wrapper, ice crystals snowing over my hands. I dig at the loaf, breaking off a hunk of it.

Her throat clicks.

"Here." I hold the hunk out to her.

"I've lost five pounds," she says.

"Jen, listen to me." I take a step closer. "I have to say, if anything, you look a little fatter."

She's flying at me, nails out, scratching, tearing at me. We're rolling around on the linoleum. I grab a hank of her hair and pull back her head.

"Son of a bitch!" She screams. I shove the bread down her throat. For a second, I think, by God, she's going to spit it out, but she doesn't. She chews. I let go of her. She removes her hands from my throat.

"I did it for you, baby. For us."

She reaches up and pulls the rest of the turd off the counter and hands it to me. We gorge ourselves on frozen pumpernickel bread and feel the rush of sweet, mood altering carbohydrates through our bloodstreams.

"Ah, this is delicious," she says, spitting a little. Her cheeks are puffed out like she's got the mumps. I love her more than air.


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