Mushroom soup

By Nicola Mabbott

The doorbell rang.
Sarah hoped it wasn’t her ex boyfriend Mike. They had had a brief relationship, but there was something about him that worried her, so she had decided to end it.
That had been two months before. Since then he had been following her around, calling her several times a day to say sorry and begging her for another chance. He hadn’t contacted her for a couple of days, so she was beginning to think he might have given up. Wishful thinking!

There was a good view of the visitor on her doorstep from the front bedroom window. She tried to look out of the window from behind the curtain, but he had saw her. “Damn! I’ll have to let him in now”, she thought as she saw Mike was looking up at her expectantly.

Sarah worked as a freelance translator and one of the companies she did translations for sold CCTV cameras. So, after negotiating a special discount, she had had a system installed in her home. The price had been very fair, and “You can never be too careful”, she had thought to herself.
She went downstairs and cautiously unlocked the front door.
“Well are you going to let me in then?” said Mike. “I’ve got something for you”.
He lifted up the basket containing the four mushrooms he had picked for her. She tried not to show how afraid she was to be alone with him. At least the CCTV system made her feel a bit safer.

Mushrooms. Last year she had translated a guide all about them for a large publishing company. 414 pages all about mushrooms. Of all the translations she had done this had been the one that had fascinated her the most. In particular the mushrooms on page 15.

In fact she had been so fascinated by it that she had asked her uncle, who knew all about mushrooms. And, underneath a chestnut tree in a wood near his house, he had pointed out a specimen of the same type as the four mushrooms in the basket. If she had calculated correctly, just one of the mushrooms she was looking at contained anough poison to kill both of them.

“90 per cent of people who die from mushrooms poisoning are killed by this one type of mushroom”, she had written in her translation. “It takes around 48 hours for the poison to take effect”.
“Wow, that one looks nice”, she said, trying to sound enthusiastic, as she picked one of the mushrooms out of the basket. She perfectly hid her disgust as she touched the deadly mushroom. “Yes, it’s a real beauty”, he replied.

After he had gone, she thought about what to do. She decided she would take the mushrooms to the police station the next day. She also had another idea: chicken and mushrooms soup for two. She would call him and they would eat it together. She wasn’t going to poison him, just give him a shock. It would have to be somewhere public where no harm could come to her. It was still mild for the time of year, so what about a picnic? Yes, a picnic would be perfect!

She opened the fridge and took out a few edible mushrooms she had in there. Then she took a can of chicken soup from the cupboard. She cooked the edible mushrooms and liquidised them before adding the mixture to the soup.

She rang him loater that evening and thanked him for the mushrooms. “They were delicious”, she lied. “What about if I prepare a picnic for us tomorrow lunchtime as a thank you? We can meet in the park near my house?”. There would be lots of people there, taking advantage of the unusually mild weather for the time of year, she thought.

“Yes, that sounds good”, he said. “Perhaps I shouldn’t have given her the poisonous mushrooms”, he thought. “She wants us to be together after all”.

They sat on a park bench to eat. “It was a bit cool this morning, so I brought us some chicken soup”, she said. As they drunk their soup in silence, he thought how well she seemed, considering she had eaten a large quantity of deadly mushrooms the night before.

But looks can be deceiving and he knew that the mushrooms were silently doing the damage inside her. And before she realised it, it would be too late.

“That was delicious”, he said.
“I’m glad you liked it. It was homemade”, she said.
“Oh”, he replied. “Chicken soup, did you say it was?”
“Yes, well, actually chicken and …” she hesitated and smiled “… mushroom”.
“Mushroom?” Of course, it had tasted of mushroom, but he hadn’t realised it until just now.
“Yes, there were a couple of mushrooms left over from your basket”, she said. “So I cooked them end put them in to give it a bit more flavour”.

His face went white.

[SpeakUp, luglio 2014]


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