Some creepy dude PayPal’s me $50 to watch me eat a bowl of soup. Over the webcam, he tells me to slurp it slowly. I wait for the money to hit my account and then I do. Like a kitten’s, my tongue laps languid and long. Hot chicken broth flicks off the spoon and dots the tip of my nose. The man’s fingers clench the loose fabric at the knees of his trousers. He breathes heavy through his mouth. The pants turn to moans and the moans turn to shudders. Peak pleasure reached, I disconnect and kill the webcam.
A fetish for everything. Although, mine involves keeping clothes on. I don’t even have to shave my legs. Hell, if my legacy is being made into the poster child for Campbell’s, so be it. My first time, my first bowl was lentil. A bad choice for the way it sank sodden into my stomach. I remember seeing the rosy blush of my cheeks reflected back at me via video screen as the red-faced man shrugged out of his soiled underwear and jerked it to the rhythmic slurp of my tongue.
I spin around in my chair as the small space I call a bedroom is breached by the sudden appearance of my father. I darken my monitor. I smell Slivovitz and Saltines on his breath. He asks me when dinner is, asks if we will have soup. I tell him, and raise the spoon like a gavel, no we will not. He does not protest and I smile. Tell him I will join him in a moment.
His mind, unexplainably alien these days, wavers and then clears. Tentatively, he calls me by name, questions why the paint on the wall is peeling. Both of these observations are correct. I watch as his fragile form retreats to hobble down the stairs. Though thin and lost, he is still strong in father-form. And me, I am a calendar waiting on a day where I can give him fancy things with cords and wires to heal his brain and bone.
A buzz from the computer and I swivel. A blinking light. A notification of a promise I have not yet delivered. A cyberspace jungle where soup is to be slurped.
I rise from the chair. It’s a spaghetti kind of night.
Jules Archer likes to smell old books and drink red wine. Her work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, >kill author, Pank, The Butter, Foundling Review, and elsewhere. She writes to annoy you at julesjustwrite.com.