‘Crème Brûlée’ by Miranda Lalla

Fiction, Short Stories

The recipe for a perfect crème brûlée starts like this:

Step 1: Pick a ripe and fair-skinned mademoiselle fresh from the lusty stems of the Upper-Middle-Class. See to it that her hip-length, pin-straight hair resembles golden spaghettinini (a spaghettini so fine, it would be, in fact, illegal for the Olive Garden to botch through replication). She must be as pretty as the centerfold model of a 1963 Esquire ad for mink coats, but not pretty enough to make trick riding a Bourbonnais donkey while reciting a limerick look effortless.

Step 2: Place a lacerated world in her right hand, and three needles in her left. Her violet eyes will water upon the realization that she has no thread, and will flash red when a man flailing a leather-bound book preaches the divine significance of the number “three”. As she suffocates, hand her a pack of Camels, tuck a lock of sunshine behind her ear, and remind her that she will forever be “daddy’s little girl”.

Step 3: Watch the custard-sweet heroine blossom into a scorched-lunged cliché with a fast tongue, very much aware of her own over-qualification for an under-qualified world.

Step 4: Leave her to chill on the park bench of a foreign duchy until inner-city ghosts suck out the lullabies escaping from between her blue lips. Her song will somersault in the harsh glare of incandescent street bulbs, sprawling far and wide in the form of softly rumbling beach-waves or curt and dignified queen-waves—it is always looming, invisible to those suffering from the very Human condition of the “blind eye”.

Step 5: Allow the aforementioned sing-song mumbles of God’s Sixth-day-native to hide beneath Paris’ Sixth-District-native vanilla smell, travelling to the Esso station on Sherbrooke and Saint-Laurent, where they will collide with a defective donkey-skin drum stretched tight over the hole in a hermit cashier’s head, damaged from years of repetitive woodwork and drilling. On a Good Day, he lives in the sweet spot between silence and shuffling (as, much like him, his eardrums had grown weary of the incessant bustle of mankind, but, unlike him, they refused to be dragged out of retirement). On a Bad Day, the small electronic Russet potatoes he fits in the dime-sized crevices of his head screech bloody murder, as he believes the working-class population of “hard of hearing” immigrants are a control group for government idea-censorship, fed compliance by means of disability perks.

Step 6: Let the words of the lily-white little-lady’s incantation settle over his ears, and watch his mind transport him through honey-drizzled nostalgia to a place he has never known, where, sleeping in the orchard of a Tuscan villa, is a girl with chestnut waves plucked straight from the Adriatic sea. Her eyes will be as deep as ripe figs, and she will blossom like hydrangea in his arms. Her linen-white goodness will turn the crude words that roll off his unrefined tongue into quatrains.

Step 7: Over a fire, leave the copper-skinned maiden to slow simmer a pot of domestic duty and unconditional love, and, as to ensure that she remains giddy and youthful, provide her with 43 bottles of daylily wine and limitless bathroom breaks. When her ex-cashier husband returns from a day of leisurely strolling through Petrarch’s rolling hills, she will be permitted to lounge on the deck of his French-named yacht, watching the amateur sailor navigate an always-temperate sea. He will measure the nautical miles of his progress with the Knots Stuck In Her Throat.

Step 8: Raise the heat under the feet of a jittery chef watching from the windowsill of a trattoria nearby: a hopeless Maestro, a living relic of a time when the greatest of hopefuls were trained the most delicate arts by scrubbing ceramic plates in the company of men who could awake even the Seine with the smell of a properly-prepared Croque Madame. These men, in turn, were trained by crawling on the floor in the company of stern-faced and war-widowed grandmothers, who were trained by a whole lot of wheat, a whole lot of resilience, and a whole lot of knuckle-white love. Peering at the unlikely pair floating on water, the chef realizes he held man to far too high esteem.

Step 9:  As he gets cooking, lay out a small bullet and a blank piece of parchment in a stronghold box.  Etch an incomprehensive symbol over the lock, and throw the key to the plankton. When the room begins to smell like tragedy, glamour, and romance, pull the delicacy from the oven.

Step 10: Armed with a shit-eating grin (and a torch) tell the virtuoso to plate his last symphony.

 “Now, having discovered the manner—the sole correct manner—to execute this feat,” he will call out, getting the attention of a ghostly waitress on a smoke break, the golden-framed face of millennial despair, “I present to you, the perfect crème brûlée.” If he performs correctly, her tightly-drawn lips will soften curiously, and constellations should return to her dreary eyes.


MIRANDA LALLA is a first-year liberal arts student at Dawson College. She has turned her tendency of run-on sentences into a lifestyle. Through writing, she hopes to bring attention to the value of the people and things that tend to get lost in the routine of everyday life.

Copyright © 2018 by Miranda Lalla. All rights reserved.

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