The Pizza Pie, or a Slice of the Sky – by R. M. Davenport

He looked into the refrigerator. After a week of periodic emptying, it only contained a few bottled condiments, a mostly empty box of beer, and a half-gallon of questionable milk. He sighed and resigned himself to remember that he needed to get the groceries himself now. The door swung shut as he walked to his phone on the kitchen table to see if she had returned his messages. She hadn’t.

He knew she wasn’t coming back this time.

He called in a take-out order, something easy he didn’t need to go get himself. As he walked back to the fridge to grab his last beer from the broken box with the soggy bottom, he wondered absently what she was doing. She used to be cleaning up from dinner about now, cleaning plates and wiping mashed fruit off the baby’s chin.

He felt a flair of longing fill his belly as he popped the top off. He suddenly remembered to remove the box from the refrigerator himself, and as he lifted it with one hand, he saw it had been set in something sticky he had neglected to clean. Now it pulled and shredded up into soggy strips as the cardboard stretched and sagged from the places that still held their original form.

As the box was removed, he noticed a small watermelon that had been completely hidden behind it, one of her final purchases for the family no doubt. It looked okay on the outside, a little banged up, but no worse for wear as far as he could tell. He set down his beer, now mostly empty on the counter with a light familiar clank and lifted it out. He was hungry.

He got out a knife and thought of her standing beside their island after the baby was asleep, her dark hair braided and fried with exhaustion. Asking for more from him. Telling him he needed to grow up. Telling him she needed his help. Telling him she wasn’t waiting anymore. Telling him they were leaving.

He was so hungry.

He swung the knife and it cracked into the fruit with a loud thump that punctuated the quiet space so free of his son’s small cooing and angry bellows, free of her laughter at his antics and her late night crying muffled only by the sound of his favorite sitcom through the hollow bathroom door.

The fruit broke under his minimal effort, and slid into two pieces, the fruit bleeding and welling up along the exposed flesh. He saw he had waited too long, forgotten it entirely until it was spoiled beyond repair.

It was rotten.

The doorbell rang. It was a delivery girl with a pizza and a bill he could easily foot. He had been throwing himself into work, and he had the dough.

It was easy.

He took his food into the kitchen and set the box down beside the watermelon, and wondered which would have tasted better fresh, the melon or the pizza. He shrugged, and peeled up the first slice, a large glob sliding to the greasy cardboard on the counter he hung over to avoid getting out a plate to wash later. He ate slice after slice until the entire pie was gone, just small melted chunks of cheese that clung in lumps to the bottoms of the box along the edge of the circular grease stain. His stomach felt like it might break under the pressure of his consumption, but he was still hungry.

He was always hungry.

R. M. Davenport graduated from the University of Maine at Machias in 2020 from the Arts and Letters undergraduate program with a focus on creative writing and book arts. She has work being featured in upcoming issues of DuFrank Lit and Feels Blind Literary magazines. She is a parent and painter living in Maine, and is working in human services at this time.