Flash Fiction: It’s All Peanuts by Emma Deanston

From an email folder labeled „Personal Chef Business“, subfolder „Clients (former)“, on the computer of Laura Schneider.

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From: Saskia Gerhart

Received: January 9th, 2012

Subject: Hired

 

Laura,

I wish your food was more original, but this could work. Paul had three slices of the pot roast and took the leftovers to the office. And I’ll admit that the leek consommé was pleasant. Not as good as the one Paul and I had at “Rivage”, naturally. But Paul won’t expect “my” cooking to outperform a three star chef, will he? Haha.

So, congratulations, you’re hired! I’m sure you’d love to put on your résumé that you’re cooking for the Gerhart household, but you’ll have to refrain from that until Paul has gotten over his ridiculous reluctance to employ staff. “Why aren’t you proud that we have gotten rich?” I asked him the other night. “How many other people have made 300 million by the time they’re 35?” But that just set him off again about the foundation he wants to establish. As you can see, your bragging will have to wait.

He usually returns from work around 8 p.m., so please have the food here by 7 p.m.. And you’ll have to leave more specific explanations. Last night, Paul asked how long I had braised the duck breasts in the starter, and when I said “Oh, three, four minutes” he laughed like I was joking. Please make sure mishaps like that won’t happen again.

Best, Saskia

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From: Saskia Gerhart

Received: January 15th, 2012

Subject: Foie gras

 

Please cancel the foie gras I put on next week’s menu. Apparently, “we” have „ethical issues“ with it.

And while I understand that you were catering a party right after, in the future please remember that you need to deliver our food in your private car not in the van with the logo. Houses in this neighborhood may be far apart, but people do talk. In fact, your Kia already stands out so much that I might have to let it drop that you’re a friend of mine. Back from school perhaps? We’re close enough in age that this would sound plausible.

I’m getting a lot of compliments from Paul for my cooking. Let’s not risk that.

Attached, you’ll find my menu wishes for next week.

Saskia

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From: Saskia Gerhart

Received: January 29th, 2012

Subject: new list

 

Laura,

attached, my menu wishes for next week as well as the updated list of ingredients to avoid. Since last week’s chickpea galettes made my throat swell up, Dr. Martin wants me to stay away from ALL legumes in the future. Of course, peanuts remain the principal hazard.

Also, you’ll need to cut out some of the cheese and butter. I caught Paul checking out my midsection. He thought I might be pregnant! Dream on, boy. Now that we have the money to enjoy ourselves, you’re not going to tie me down with THAT.

Saskia

***

From: Saskia Gerhart

Received: February 8th, 2012

Subject: Re: family emergency

 

Laura,

well, I’m sorry that your father suffered a stroke. But that doesn’t mean that you can just up and leave town to travel home. May I remind you that you’re in the SERVICE industry? You think a heart surgeon could just abandon his operating table whenever some crisis strikes?

I’m not paying you for those four days you missed.

Saskia

***

From: Saskia Gerhart

Received: February 14th, 2012

Subject: You’re fired!

 

Laura,

what the f*** was up with that Valentine’s dinner?! The “peppery” venison ragout left us gasping for air, the mayo in the crab salad did not go rancid in MY fridge, and Paul cracked a tooth on a pit in those cherry chocolate tartlets. He actually accused me of mocking him with this meal.

I’ll be out of town for the rest of the week but will expect you promptly on Monday at 11 a.m. to hand in your key.

Saskia

***

From a folder labeled “newspaper articles” on the laptop of Laura Schneider:

 

WIFE OF SOFTWARE CEO DIES IN TRAGIC ACCIDENT

Oakhurst, February 18th — Saskia Gerhart, 34, wife of Paul Gerhart, CEO of Zippo Technology, was found dead in her house yesterday, the police reported.

The apparent cause of death was an allergy attack, triggered by a home-baked cookie. Mrs. Gerhart was known to suffer from severe reactions to peanuts, among other things. “She made those cookies as a dinner dessert the week before and ate them then without problems,” said her visibly shaken husband.

Gerhart, whose company went public last spring and is currently listed for 43 dollars a share, making Gerhart’s purported stock options worth 313 million dollars, found his wife’s body as he returned from work. Mrs. Gerhart’s allergies had been classified as “class IV”, signifying that a single peanut crumb, which might have become mixed into a flour package during the production process, could cause her airways to swell shut, unless medication was administered immediately.

At the time of the attack, Mrs. Gerhart had been home alone.

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Goings on about town, Oakhurst Times, November 23rd

++++++ In other happenings, software CEO Paul Gerhart married his girlfriend, the personal chef Laura Schneider, this weekend at the Oakhurst Country Club. As readers of this column will recall, the two –- with Gerhart reputedly worth 356 million dollars as of yesterday’s stock market closing –- started a whirlwind courtship after the tragic death of Gerhart’s first wife Saskia this spring. “She looked me up after Saskia died. It turned out that the two of them had been friends,” Paul told this column’s reporter. “There was an incredible chemistry right from the start. It felt like she already knew me.” This Sunday, the couple made their union official in the presence of 600 guests. And for those who saw the pictures and wondered: Yes, that’s a baby belly under the Vera Wang dress! You read it here first! ++++++

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Emma Deanston is a journalist who grew up in Germany before moving to the US. She has won several awards for her non-fiction writing. Emma Deanston is the pseudonym she has adopted for her new adventures in the short story genre. She’s currently living back in Europe, making her home in the Netherlands.

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R Thomas Brown

R. Thomas Brown is the Flash Fiction Editor at Spinetingler and writes the Short Thoughts on Short Fiction series. His writing appears around the web and links can be found at his website. "Hill Country" will be coming out in 2012 from Snubnose Press. When not writing or reading, he is a clueless husband and father of three inspiring and exhausting children.

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