She digs into the jar, coating her fingers in brown sludge. She sucks off every last morsel before swallowing lavishly, adding a performative little moan at the end.
His taste vanishes from her mouth.
She will happily date another man who frames his Pokémon trading cards. Or a man who doesn’t understand her love for Mariah Carey is both ironic and sincere. She will put up with another boyfriend’s unemployed brother third-wheeling on dates. And – if she has to – she will date another man who only ejaculates while artlessly scrunching up her breasts like a stress ball.
But she will never, ever date a man with a nut allergy again.
Five days later, she has consumed four peanut butter pots. She sees no need for any other food. Or, for that matter, any man, whether he can or cannot be within twenty feet of a nut.
She remembers reading something once about a man who married a pizza. Had a ceremony where he dressed the pizza in a little veil. The headline was ‘I Now Pronounce You Man And Slice’. In the interview he’d said he ‘truly loved’ the pizza. That life was ‘simpler’ this way.
She wonders if she agrees.
Simple sounds good.
Life wasn’t simple in her last relationship. Not when she was scrubbing her tongue in the work toilets after her lunchtime PB + J sandwich. Or when she got repetitive jaw strain from chewing gum constantly so her breath wouldn’t garner manslaughter charges. And life was especially un-simple for those 182 days where, for him, she stopped eating peanut butter entirely. She remembers the dreams of knives smearing erotically across bagels as nuts with suspender-clad, showgirl-legs can-canned across her tongue.
So, she concludes, keep things simple. Peanut butter is simple. Gooey and simple.
Plus, now she knows – thanks to this online blog she read last night – that peanut butter prevents gallstones. In her twenty-six years on earth, she has never had a gallstone. Go figure.
On the eighth day, he sends her a message. She’s just returned from her latest trip to the supermarket when she reads it.
‘I miss u.’
When she presses down onto the keypad to block him, a smudge of peanut butter imprints on her phone.
By the twelfth day, the odd memory pokes through the cloak of peanut butter particles. Suddenly, things come to her. Like how sweet drizzled honey tasted or the bitter, coolness of mint. She even has a short, sharp pang for a slice of pizza. But not the pizza the man in the news married. She wouldn’t come between a happy couple like that.
She remembers the first time she kissed her ex. His soft tongue mixing potently with all those whiskey shots she’d taken to impress him and the ash from the cigarettes she’d pretended she smoked. She’d been so infatuated, but now, that first kiss sits on her tongue cumbersomely – a pill with an aftertaste that’s caught her off-guard before.
His mouth has been everywhere.
The peanut butter lathered onto her tongue, sinks deeper into her taste buds. But it isn’t enough.
It takes the contents of sixty-two peanut butter jars – the creamiest brand she can find – before her bathtub is full. She lays in the glorious gunk, the dense paste gripping onto her body. She’ll encases herself here until the lingering memories – his breath on her neck, fingers sinking into her hip bones, toes being sloppily sucked – are truly gone.
By the fifteenth day, the bath has become a permanent, pleasurable evening activity. She expands her beauty regime. Peanut butter shower gel. Peanut butter facemasks. Peanut butter lip balms. Peanut butter bath bombs. She wiggles around in the brown slop as she listens to Mariah Carey’s back catalogue and reads a self-published e-book about farming your own peanuts. When she emerges, all her clothes have peanut-butter stains on them. She shrugs. She suits the colour brown.
On the sixteenth day, she needs a good, hard cum. Fantasies involving Tom Hardy working in a shipbuilding yard aren’t working their usual magic. She’s missing the flesh and blood of a real body next to her. Unfortunately, peanut butter is distinctly lacking in sexually arousing mascots – Mr Peanut and his monocle reminds her too much of her grandfather. So, she gets creative. Amasses different textures, shades, brands, products of peanut butter – she never knew they made pretzels – and invests time and effort into crafting a real masterpiece. A peanut butter boyfriend. With Hershey Kisses for eyes and strawberry lace lips.
Tom Hardy is relieved from duty.
That evening, she falls asleep while burrowing into her peanut butter boyfriend’s neck, an old episode of The West Wing on the TV. Her ex had seen it already and didn’t want to watch it with her again. Her peanut butter boyfriend has seen it before as well but doesn’t mind watching it again. For her.
Emma Brankin is a teacher from Scotland, currently living in London. She recently graduated with a Masters in Creative Writing and Education. Her work can be found in places such as XRAY Literary Magazine and Maudlin House.