by | Aug 9, 2022 | Fiction, Issue Twenty-Eight

Lee Carson is allergic to peanuts [1], and so he does not go down the aisle with the peanut butter at the local A&P.

[1] Thirty years ago, Lee’s lips swelled after eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at a picnic in the park. His mother, wrapped in her new-parent performance anxiety, rushed him to the emergency room where he was promptly diagnosed with a severe nut allergy, and for the sake of transparency despite its irrelevance to this particular story, an unfortunate sensitivity to dairy.

He paid biblical attention to this allergy throughout his teenage years and burgeoning adulthood, and his wife had found his attention to detail attractive until one day she didn’t, and so Lee began to inadvertently drive her away with his unshakeable obsession with planning and information [2]. He didn’t know when, exactly, her opinion of him had changed, but he never let go of the hope that one day it would revert back to what it once had been.

Later, Lee’s annality continued to pervade his and his wife’s many lunch meetings with the divorce lawyers. He even tried to keep up his obsessive care through several subsequent bouts with depression that ultimately struck him after his wife moved out, but this proved rather difficult once he could hardly summon the energy to get out of bed.

During a particularly tough spell, Lee forced himself to the grocery store with every intention of sticking to his mostly modest grocery list [3], a tradition he had followed once a week since even before he met his wife. He crossed another item off his shrinking list, and was about to skip Aisle 8 altogether, like he always did, until he realized he wanted something else entirely [4] [5].

[2] “You’ve lost your sense of spontaneity,” Betsy had sighed, sliding off her silver ring and setting it on the dining room table, right next to Lee’s untouched dinner plate.

[3] The list includes green apples, wheat bread, and a box of pasta, and he only includes the bottle of sauvignon as an afterthought. A treat, he tells himself, for the completion of the divroce papers that were now set to go through later that week with no problems expected from the court. At least, that was what his lawyer had told him, who had happily recounted the news not twenty minutes, right before he hung up in the middle of Lee’s haggard good-bye.

[4] He walks down the condiment aisle and picks up a jar of Skippy.

[5] At home, he makes himself a peanut butter sandwich and pairs it with the wine. He eats it in the tub, wondering if Betsy would prepare the funeral, thinking that real peanut butter tastes nothing like the sunflower seed substitute he had always purchased before.

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