The Grana Padano House of Wedgewood
My husband’s ex lives in a house made of cheese catty corner from a grocery. She moved here to Wedgewood only a short while ago. She is so attractive that even women blush when they see her and men follow her like homeless dogs. “Why did she move here?” I ask my husband. He pretends that he doesn’t know what I’m talking about. “I haven’t seen her in years,” he answers. Wherever I am, his ex appears. If I’m picking out avocados, she’s standing behind me. If I’m in the dress shop, she’ll walk out of the dressing room in a long blue dress and stare at herself in the mirror while the men peer in the windows. If I drive up to the bank teller, she’s at the ATM drive-up. I can’t get away from her. She’s the talk of Wedgewood, and her house is lovely and delicious in the way that a wheel of Grana Padano cheese is. When I say “delicious,” I mean it, as I have taken to secretly breaking off little chunks and eating them on my walks through the town. When I ask my husband if he’s talked with his ex-wife, he always responds the same way. “Are you still obsessed with her?” I’m not obsessed with her. Still, despite his denials and criticism, every evening I go for my walk and nibble a little more of her house.
The Not So Invisible Ex
No matter where I go here in Wedgewood, my ex-husband’s wife goes with me, following me to the avocados in the grocery and peeking through the curtain when I try on the long blue dresses at the vintage dress shop. She is so silent and calm and beautiful that I’d like to cup her face in my hands and feed her bits of parmesan cheese. “Hello there,” I say, enthralled by her glow. “I haven’t seen you in years.” A clear cut lie. She shrugs and blushes. Why did you move here? she asks. “It’s a great town for cheese,” I answer.
When I see my ex, he pretends that he doesn’t see me, even if we pass shoulder to shoulder on the street. I’ve gotten used to it. However, once I did stop him right in front of the grocery. “Your wife seems to be following me,” I said. “Why are you so obsessed with her?” he asked.
And then I noticed the crumbled Grana Padano deep within his beard.
Mistaking One Cheese for Another
She said her house was Grana Padano, but it was really pecorino. I’m not a snob or anything about cheeses but who goes around boasting about her house being made of cheese and then gets it wrong. It’s hard to know what to say to her. So, I sniff around her house at night when she’s sleeping and pinch the corners. It crumbles into my palm. “Pecorino,” I say to myself and take a plastic container home for my husband to sample. “Yes,” he says. “Only my ex would mistake Pecorino Romano for Grana Padano. But then again, her pasta was always mushy and not even a good pecorino can help that.” He tastes the cheese again and licks his lips. Now he’s eating the cheese and saying that it’s got a wonderful flavor. And I can only imagine that the flavor reminds him of her, salty and buttery, like some kind of sheep mulling through the grasses, its body full of curls.
is the author of six flash fiction collections, an award-winning collection of prose poetry, two novellas-in-flash, and a new prose collection, Spinning to Mars, recipient of the Blue Light Book Award in 2020. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, Washington Square Review, Wigleaf, Waxwing, and McSweeney’s, among others. She is the Series Founder and Co-Editor of Best Microfiction.
eighth book, The Marksman, was published in November 2020 by Carnegie Mellon University Press. He has received numerous awards and prizes for his poetry, mini tales, and translations, including a National Endowment Literature Translation Fellowship in 2016 and two individual Artist Grants from New Hampshire Arts Council. Two of his micro stories were recently selected for the Best Microfiction 2021 anthology.
Author’s website: www.poetjefffriedman.com