The Hungry Vegan
A short story written by Siobahn Harris 7/18/2017
Dahlia used to love having people over for dinner. Her dated apartment was so small but everyone always felt so comfortable there, like family home for the holidays. She used to have all her friends over and after dinner they would pile onto and around the old brown love seat she found on the side of the road and watch movies. It was something that warmed her heart. Things are different now. All she did was change her diet and just like that they were all gone.
Three months ago, she watched a graphic video online that made her change from eating meat daily to being vegan. Dahlia loved the diet change because it made her feel better and she even lost some weight but not all of her friends liked the idea of her changing. The confidence she once had cooking a dinner for her friends faded, as she spent most of the time not knowing what to give them or if they would even enjoy a vegan meal. Even though everything in her told her not to, Dahlia decided to invite her closest friend Rachel and her husband David over for dinner. Her concern wasn’t so much about Rachel, as it was about David. Not long ago, Dahlia considered David a friend. They used to be able to sit and share a beer together but the second she became vegan, he pushed her away. Something about her not eating meat bothered him. He seemed to think that she felt she was better than he was. No matter what she did to try and rebuild the bond, he pushed back.
Dahlia was shocked when Rachel told her, “David said he’ll come to dinner, is that cool?”
That warm feeling returned as she felt like she may gain his trust back. “Yeah! That sounds great.”
The night of the dinner progressed perfectly. Dahlia, Rachel, and David sat around the small glass top table enjoying dinner, sharing work stories, and laughing. It felt like old times.
“Thank you both for coming over tonight.” Dahlia began clearing the table, gathering the plates as she made her way to the kitchen.
Rachel jumped up to help. She flashed a smile at David as she gathered up the empty beer bottles. “We appreciate you inviting us. It’s been way too long and dinner was delicious! Wasn’t it, David?” Rachel elbowed David before she walked into the kitchen.
Leaning back in his chair, he responded, “Uh… yeah. Sure, it was good. I mean, thanks for making a meal with meat for me.”
The room grew quiet as Dahlia and Rachel shared a look. Dahlia whispered, “You didn’t tell him?”
Rachel shot back with a shrug and a nervous smile.
With a sigh Dahlia said, “Look, David, I was going to cook you a meal with meat but I found a new recipe and wanted to give it a try but I’m happy you liked it.”
“Wait a minute. You fed me a hippy vegan meal?” His voice filled the tiny apartment.
Rachel walked into the dining room, “No, David. She fed you dinner. You ate it and enjoyed it. Period.”
David dropped his meaty forearms onto the table top with a bang. He complained, gesturing towards the kitchen, “No, Rach. That was a trick! She just tricked me into eating her way!”
Dahlia quickly stepped out of the kitchen to address David. “No no no, I wouldn’t do that. I just thought if it tasted like meat, you would like it. I think it turned out okay, right?”
Staring at Dahlia, David stood up from the table, grabbed his jacket and walked towards the door. “We’re done here.” He opened the door and walked out.
Rachel looked at Dahlia with concern. “Look, I’m sorry about him. He’s an ass. You know that.”
Dahlia’s stomach twisted. It was as though she had just been yelled at by her father. “I didn’t mean to upset anyone.”
“Like I said, he’s an ass. It did taste like meat and he couldn’t tell the difference. That’s why he’s mad. I have an idea! I just found a recipe for vegan meatballs. I was going to send it to you but why don’t you come over tomorrow night and I will cook it up.”
Dahlia plopped down into one of the dining room chairs. “I don’t know. I doubt he will want another vegan meal and I highly doubt he will want to see me again after thinking I tricked him.”
Rachel waved her hand towards the door, “I’ll make real meat for our meals but yours will be the vegan version. And don’t worry about him, by tomorrow night he’ll be fine. I’ll just get him a burger on the way home. What do ya say? Tomorrow night?”
Dahlia hesitated. The thought of upsetting anyone two nights in a row made her want to cry. However, if it worked out, things won’t be so awkward anymore. “Sure. Tomorrow night.”
Rachel jumped and wrapped her arms around Dahlia’s shoulders. “Great! This will work. See ya then.”
The engine rumbled as Dahlia sat in her car outside of Rachel and David’s house. I could just go home now and say that I got sick, she thought. Then she remembered how excited Rachel was about her coming over. She made a meal just for me, she thought. Okay, just go in, talk to Rachel and keep things simple when it comes to David. Just dinner, chat, and leave.
The walk up to the house made her nervous. This was exactly why she never had dinner parties anymore. Food is such a personal thing. Everyone is so very protective of their food. Just because she was vegan she knew people assumed that she would push that onto them. She just wanted to be vegan for her but no one seemed to believe that.
Her finger hesitated before it connected with the doorbell. When the door swung open she instantly plastered on her fake smile. Thankfully Rachel answered the door.
Dahlia always loved their home. It was so perfect. They had this plushy green carpet that never seemed dirty, a large wraparound sofa with cup holders, and a big beautiful fireplace. It’s the type of home that Dahlia could only dream about.
Stepping inside she saw David sitting on the sofa watching television. “Hi,” she said in almost a whisper.
David flinched an eyebrow and stayed silent. Rachel placed her hand on Dahlia’s shoulder, ushering her towards the kitchen. She whispered, “Remember what I said, ignore him.”
Inside the kitchen Rachel leaned on the island. “So, everything is done and I am so pleased with how the vegan meat balls turned out. They taste real! I was half tempted to just serve it to everyone but with how last night ended… well, you know.”
Dahlia looked down at her feet. “Yeah, I get it. So, he’s still mad, huh? He really thinks I was trying to trick him?”
“Look, he is an idiot. He just thinks you are going to try and make him vegan. That’s dumb.” Rachel lowered her voice, “honestly, he told me last night that he is worried about you. He said he thinks you need meat in your diet to be healthy. Maybe all of this is because he is afraid you will make yourself sick.”
“Yeah, maybe. Want help setting the table?” Dahlia began grabbing plates.
“No no, it is already done! You are the guest tonight. Just go sit down and we will eat!” Rachel scooted up behind Dahlia, pushing her out of the kitchen.
Their dining room table was huge. There was enough chairs for six people. Dahlia twiddled her thumbs with her head down. The room seemed to fill with an invisible fog when David walked in and sat across from her. The silence made Dahlia want to leave, but then Rachel came in with some beers. She sat down next to Dahlia and asked David if he could go grab the plates. “Sweetie, Dahlia’s meal is in the oven and ours is on the stove top, okay?”
“Got it,” he said as he walked into the kitchen.
David came back with two plates. He set their plates down in front of them and then went back to get his.
The night turned out to be better than Dahlia expected. When the dinner was done Rachel grabbed everyone a third beer. One sip left Dahlia’s stomach churning. She knew when it was time to stop and it was definitely time to stop. By the time Rachel and David started taking notice of groans coming from her stomach she decided to call it a night. The three of them stood on the front porch talking before Dahlia started walking to her car. She turned to Rachel and said, “Oh, do you have that recipe for me? You were right, it was awesome!”
Rachel turned to David, “Yeah, David could you grab that for me? It is on the island.”
David chuckled and went into the house. He came back with a piece of paper and handed it to Rachel.
Rachel push the paper back to him. “No sweetie. This is what we ate. She wants the vegan recipe.”
David handed the paper to Dahlia and looked at Rachel. “But baby, this is what she ate.”
“No, David. I made a special plate just for her. We had the real meat, she had the vegan meat that I made this afternoon.”
A smirk crossed David’s face. “No baby. I switched the plates.”
Dahlia could feel her stomach turning at the thought of eating meat. “Wait. What?”
Rachel pushed David’s shoulder. “What? No. David, what’s the matter with you?! Why would you do that?”
“Hey! She tricked me, now I tricked her!” David let out a boisterous laugh that echoed down the street.
Dahlia could feel the dinner coming up. “No, you dumbass. I didn’t trick you. I just thought you would like it.”
“I’m not a dumbass. You’re the dumbass vegan who ate meat and couldn’t even tell.”
Everything began to spin and all Dahlia could see was David’s laughing mouth. She stumbled off the porch and began to throw up in the bush. She could vaguely hear Rachel yelling at David. Once she was done she stood up, whipped the tears from her eyes, and walked to her car.
The next morning David’s eyes slowly opened. He felt so tired. Looking up he could tell something was wrong. The room around him was blurry but he could see that he wasn’t at home. The light above his head was familiar. He could feel the cold are floor beneath him. In an attempt to stand his body began rocking slightly back and forth but to no avail. His eyes began to dart around the room when he realized where he was. Dahlia’s apartment. He remembered hitting his head on that old light above the dining room table when he helped her move in. He tried to yell for help but only a groan made it out.
Dahlia’s voice filled the room but he couldn’t see her. “Aww, it’s awake. Stop freaking out. It will stress the meat and then it won’t taste as good.”
Dahlia walked over to David lying on the floor and stood over him. She looked down at him and said, “Your little prank last night was so very cruel, but it opened my eyes.”
Dahlia grabbed a blood covered knife from a chair next to them. “Yanno, I’m already full but I really shouldn’t waste all this meat.”
She walked over to the loveseat and grabbed a small pillow. She slid the pillow under his head and said, “Don’t want you to miss anything, now that you’re awake.”
With his head leaned up David began looking around again. His eyes stopped when he could see the rest of his body. Both of his legs and one of his arms were crudely cut off and missing. Tears began to fall down his face. His mouth hung open like a fish. Dahlia picked up his right arm and began hacking away at it just below the elbow. With each hit his body jerked and a sickening squishing sound filled the quiet room. Dahlia continued chopping until the bone was exposed. She then held his arm up and began kicking the bone until it snapped. With a chuckle, she held his arm over her head like a trophy. The blood dripped from his severed arm, down her face and onto his chest.
Dahlia bent down and leaned her bloody face right next to David’s. She whispered, “You were right, David. I do need meat in my diet.”