This was my response to the SKOW prompt #4 Sacrifice. I've plans to expand it into a full story, but that will depend on how busy my summer gets.
Prompt: Forty days. I have to last absolutely forty days without insert pronoun here . I'm going to die.
It's easy to be a phone vegan
"Excuse me?" I asked into the phone. I could have sworn I heard my mother say that she was coming to stay with me for six weeks, but that couldn't have been what she said. Six weeks is a month and a half. Six weeks is how long it took for my goldfish Ernie to die and he had an entire fishbowl to live in. I have a single bedroom apartment that I already share with my fiancé. What could she possibly be thinking?
"It will take six weeks for flooring to be refinished. I wouldn't burden you like this except that the man doing the work said that the fumes from the stains and all the sawdust going around the house would be bad for my health. And it's not like six weeks is very long, you lived with me for eighteen years."
"Where's dad for all of this?" I asked, looking around my apartment in a panic.
"Oh, he's in Japan on business. I wanted to surprise him when he comes home. Plus, we haven't seen each other in ages. It'll be like the good old days! I can officially meet your fiancé you can show me all the great vegan restaurants in the area. It'll be fun!"
"Mom, we don't exactly have room for you here. Wouldn't it be better for you to stay in a hotel?"
"A hotel?" She asked in astonishment. "With the leather reception chairs and all you can eat buffets?"
"You love buffets!" I said, dropping into the oversized leather couch currently occupying my living room.
"I love vegan buffets at the organic cafe! Please Sandra, I'll go absolutely crazy living with anyone else."
"Mom," I sighed massaging my forehead, I could feel a migraine forming. "We really don't have the room."
"You have a couch. I can stay on a couch. It won't bother me in the least." I ran my hand along the leather couch I was sitting on silently. "It's not even a full six weeks," she continued. "It's only forty days." I gave a humourless laugh.
"Let me talk to Jere and I'll get back to you, okay?"
"Oh darling you won't regret it, I promise!" she exclaimed, as if I had already said yes.
That night I sipped my glass of red wine while sitting on the kitchen counter. Jeremy, my fiancé, was cooking steaks on our Panini press and the entire process was making me extremely hungry and a little turned on.
"So what was it you wanted to talk to me about?" He asked, going to the stove to check on the potatoes. "You sounded a little panicked on the phone."
"My mother is coming to visit." I said with a mock cheerful smile.
"I've never met your mother," he said needlessly as he pulled the baked potatoes out of the oven.
"For a good reason." I said. "Me and my mother, we don't mix. We get along best when she's down in Memphis, and I'm here up in Toronto. The distance is perfectly chosen. I'm close enough so she doesn't feel obligated to make a big trip out to see me, which she would if I lived in Europe or something; and far enough away to make a weekend venture tedious. Having to cross through customs to visit was brilliance on my part."
Finished with the potatoes he came to stand between my legs and lifted my chin so I was forced to look into his eyes. "We've been together for two years and engaged for the last five months, are you really all that surprised that your mother wants to come by and see how you're doing... maybe meet the man you're going to marry?"
"Jere you don't get it. It's not so much that she's coming to visit, it's that the only thing we have in common is the fact that we're both vegan."
"But you're not vegan," he said, massaging circles into my thighs.
"No, but my mother doesn't know that. She thinks I gave up meat when I moved here." He let out a laugh at that, and I raised my eyebrow in response. It wasn't often that my fiancé laughed at me and the act alone caught me off guard. "What are you laughing about? This is serious!"
"How did you manage to pretend to be vegan?" he asked, moving his hands to draw shapes up and down my back.
"It's easy to be vegan over the phone. I googled what I could and couldn't eat, then memorized some dishes so whenever she called I could tell her what I ate the previous day. Don't doubt my abilities. I once ate two servings of shepherd's pie while listening to my mother rant about the ladies at her bridge club putting honey into their tea and how this was some kind of personal attack on her." I took a deep breath. "Oh my god. Jere, I won't be able to eat meat the entire time she's here. We'll have to clear out the fridge and freezer. If she saw what was in there today she'd likely have a heart attack."
"How did you tell her we met?" He asked, leaving me on the counter to flip the meat. I pouted at the loss of contact and hopped down so I could start mashing the potatoes.
"If you mean did I tell her that we met at an Argentinean Steak House when we fought over the last rib eye then the answer is no. I told her I met you on the island."
"I never go to Toronto Island!" He laughed, "What in the world inspired that lie?"
"I dunno, I had just come back from visiting Hannah and when my mom asked if I was seeing anyone and where we'd met it was the first place that came to mind."
"And what did we do on our first date?"
"You took me to a vegan sushi bar." I said guiltily while mashing up the potatoes.
"As opposed to our favourite burger joint downtown?" I gave him an award winning smile before turning back to the bowl of potatoes. "Do vegan sushi bars even exist?" he asked.
"I don't know. If she brings it up it ran out of business."
"Mmhmm." He mumbled, and I felt his hands circle my waist from behind. "Any other important changes to our history that I should know about?"
"You're not mad are you?" I asked turning in his arms to drape mine around his neck.
"No, I think it's funny. You do realize though that I expect to have meat at our wedding." I kissed him then, so I wouldn't have to answer. I'm sure he saw my evasive tactics a mile away, but it really wasn't in our nature to pull back from a kiss. Things probably would have gotten heated very quickly, but the smell of meat cooking reminded us that dinner would go from rare to burnt if we weren't careful. And who likes their steak anything but rare?
"After dinner," I whispered before grabbing plates and cutlery and bringing them to the table. Jeremy quickly followed and set the steaks and potatoes down along with the salad I'd tossed earlier. As I cut into my steak and savoured the first bite, all I could think about were the delicious things I was going to miss.
Goodbye cheeseburger. Goodbye beef bourguignon. Goodbye big, fat, juicy, twenty-three ounce rare steak in a balsamic mustard rub, grilled on the BBQ then left to marinate in its own juices. I'll miss you.
"Forty days. I have to last forty days without it. I'm going to die."
The next morning after a very pleasant interlude in the shower, we sat down to breakfast.
"So I've been thinking, you'll be fine, people live without meat every day. It's easy to be a vegetarian these days; there are tons of meat alternatives."
"Vegan, I have to be a vegan." I said munching on a strip of bacon.
"What exactly is the difference?"
"If I was a vegetarian I could eat a lot more. I mean I still wouldn't be able to eat meat in any form including seafood and shellfish. But I would be able to eat things like eggs, dairy, honey..." I gestured to the table which was covered with an array of the very foods I was describing.
"You could eat tofu, I hear it tastes just like meat." Jeremy said before he refilled my cup with coffee.
"Seriously? Have you ever had tofu?! I swear it's this horrendous invention that vegetarians concocted to terrorize carnivores. It looks like rubber, it smells like rubber and it tastes like rubber."
"Regardless," Jeremy said in that calm voice of his that told you to settle down, that you were over reacting. "You are a strong, beautiful, resourceful woman. You'll survive this visit, just like you survived meeting my family."
"Oh no, no. This isn't just me we're talking about. You're not eating meat the whole time she's here either. And this is much worse than meeting your family. At least I could talk to your cross-dressing brother about shoes – my vegan mother would flip if she saw what I wore on my feet."
Ignoring my comments he asked, "I'm assuming she's staying in our living room?"
"Unfortunately. I have no idea what we're going to do with the furniture. The couch will have to go in storage."
"Wouldn't it just be easier to tell your mother the truth?" I gave him a pointed look before standing up and bringing my dishes to the kitchen.