Better Living Cookbook: Recipe for a Real Girl
• The so-happy-your-heart-hurts teeth from your first love
• A dusting of powder, a streak of eyeliner
• The curvy eyebrows of the boy who wasn’t as smart as you
• The dogged persistence of the boy who never asked
• The wrinkled, soft hands of the man you’ll never regret
• Brains, your own (measure amount carefully, too much of this
can ruin the entire dish)
• The heart-shaped freckle on the right shoulder blade of the one
• The gentlemanly manners of the one you never said yes to
• Blue eyes from someone, sculpted arms from another, and
mouths from them all
• Pieces and parts of all the boys you have ever known, Eve
carving herself from Adam
• A mascara’d crust to put it all in, to hold it all together
PREP TIME COOK TIME READY IN
65 Minutes 20-30 years a lifetime, if you’re lucky
- Boil thoroughly in a long, hot shower.
- Shave legs and under arms. (Tip: Shave the knees a second
time; no matter how hard and close you press the blade, there
will always remain a few solitary hairs there, defiant in
- Moisturize, lotion, perfume.
- Slice and dice a garment for wearing until at first glance it looks
modest with potential for accidental sex appeal.
- Knead the still-damp hair under fingers and leave to air dry in a
casual, messy way. (Tip: Don’t rush this step—sometimes it’s
necessary to spend several minutes ensuring the part is just the
perfect kind of crooked; it can take hours of preparation to
achieve this natural look.)
- Let simmer until he arrives.
- Sift through restaurant options. (Tip: Don’t mention you hate
hamburgers when he suggests the local burger joint.)
- Sprinkle laughs on all his jokes, especially the ones in poorest
- For extra flavoring, add a kiss.
- Carve the smile from his lips to keep for yourself.
- Flip half-heartedly for the check, to ensure even browning, but
back down when he insists—grate this chivalry into fine pieces
and save them.
- Squeeze the fingers off the hand you’re holding to never forget
the feel of them.
- Melt into his arms, chop them at the shoulders to keep around
- Peel the freckles off his back, set aside.
- Whisk conversation in a restaurant or a car, careful of dark
secrets boiling over, stir occasionally.
- Strain out the excess, and keep the parts of him you like best.
- Bake arms and freckles and hands and mouths into warm pie.
- Remove from oven, allow 10 minutes to cool.
- Best served quickly, as soon as you return; swallow these parts
of him and make them yours, and he will see himself in you and
- Wait for him to call again—and repeat.
Chef’s Note: We have determined the nutritional value of a first date
based on a retention value of 10% after cooking. The exact amount may
vary depending on cook time and temperature, ingredient density, and
the specific type of boy used.
Samatha Edmonds am the Fiction Editor for Doubleback Review, a new lit journal in the Sundress Publications family, as well as the new Assistant Fiction Editor for Sundress Publications. My work appears in Ninth Letter, The Rumpus, Black Warrior Review, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, among others. I currently live in Columbia MO, where I’m a PhD student in fiction at the University of Missouri.Alex DiFrancesco is a multi-genre writer who has published work in Tin House, The Washington Post, Pacific Standard, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The New Ohio Review, Brevity and more. In 2019, they published their essay collection Psychopomps (Civil Coping Mechanisms Press) and their novel All City (Seven Stories Press), which was a finalist for the Ohioana Book Awards. Their short story collection Transmutation (Seven Stories Press) is forthcoming in 2021. They are the recipient of grants and fellowships from PEN America and Sundress Academy for the Arts. They are an assistant editor at Sundress Publications.
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