I’m slightly late, but here is my interpretation of the Daily Prompt Ring of Fire:
Do you love hot and spicy foods or do you avoid them for fear of what tomorrow might bring?
Our new boss holds out his chopsticks across the narrow table. Clamped between them is a slim, shiny green pepper, broken in half and drizzled with red, chunky sauce all rolled in a brilliant green lettuce leaf. A and I look at one another. I can smell the giant clove of garlic he has just eaten, upon Boss’s request, wafting off his breath in waves.
“Garlic,” Boss said. “It is good for men.”
A picks up his chopsticks. His hands are slightly shaky. The last 24 hours of travel from the our hometowns to our new home on the southern coast of South Korea are definitely catching up. His hair is tousled from sleeping on the bus from Seoul to Yeosu. Our skin is sticky from the recycled air and sweat of travel. Around us the cafeteria room is blurred around the edges, the voices of neighboring dinners a hum that moves like ocean waves coming in and out.
A takes the lettuce roll. The flat metal chopsticks slip slightly and he adjusts his grip quickly.
“Is it spicy?”
“Not spicy.” Boss smiles. It is not particularly pleasant, though he intends it to be. The smirking grin of the Grinch comes to mind. Perhaps it is only my motion sickness medication wearing off?
Next to Boss, his daughter’s eyes are wide. She shakes her head slightly and looks between her father and A.
Despite her silent warning, A brings the chopsticks to his mouth and places the wrap inside. He sets down the chopsticks and begins to chew. Chew. Chew. His face shifts from pink to cherry to fire engine red in a matter of moments. Chew. Chew. Beads of sweat burst across his forehead.
Boss begins to laugh, that smile working the muscles in his face. His daughter and I can’t help it. Laughter tumbles from our lips as A opens his mouth and all but breathes fire.
“Not spicy?” Boss says.
“I wouldn’t say that.” A gulps down his little tin cup of water followed by mine. Boss’s daughter jumps up to refill the cups at the grey metal water dispenser along the wall.
“Do you like spicy?” Boss asks.
“We aren’t used to it yet,” A says. “But was are looking forward to eating Korean food.”
He knocks back the two refilled cups.
Boss watches A careful. “Spicy,” he says. “It is good for men.”
Sweat trickles down A’s cheeks.
“First test of manliness,” Boss says.
Well, I think as heat radiates off A’s body and dances across my arms, I won’t be proving my manliness anytime soon.