Slow-Cooked Sentences

Elusive heat

Rachael Conlin Levy
“Simplicity” by suvodeb.

Once upon a time there was woman who woke one morning and couldn’t get warm.

She drank two cups of coffee. But she was still cold. She drank a cup of black tea. But she was still cold. Outside snow fell. Inside, her cold fingers tapped on the keyboard, and she shivered thinking of the laps she’d committed to swim at noon.

“How shall I convince myself to stick a toe in the water?” she asked.

Then she remembered a small cafe called the Aroma Club that served hot chocolate spiked with chili. The drink was sinfully thick and surprisingly spicy, with each sip making love to her mouth and leaving a slow burn in her throat. For weeks afterward, she tried to recreate the experience.

She melted an entire Lindt chili chocolate bar in milk. But it was much too bland.

She bought a box of Ibarra’s “genuine Mexican chocolate” from the Latino market down the street. But it was much too sweet.

She became a cooking chemist, combining cinnamon and chili and coriander with cocoa. But it was much too spicy.

However, the woman wouldn’t despair. Instead, she packed her swimsuit, goggles and a promise. And when when she finished her laps, she cranked up the heat in her car and drove across town to the cafe where, she knew, they got it just right.

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