Frankie’s Gifts

By Emma Erlanger

Peppered steak. Chopped onions. Dill. The stuff Frankie’s dreams were made of. Being a cook meant being perpetually full, which was just how she liked to be. She slept in breadcrumbs from all her midnight snacking, and she awoke to the uneaten pastries she left on the nightstand each evening for her morning self to have. She liked them better when they were stale. 

So few people treated themselves with kindness, but not Frankie. She knew how to surprise herself, how to leave herself little presents, ways to show herself she cares. An extra five dollars in the pocket of a coat, two cigarettes in a pack at the back of a drawer, the clothes she would buy and put away with the tags still on them so that when times were tight she could still feel like she’d gone shopping. 

People might have thought from her poor skin and lack of rigorous exercise, as well as the constant garlic scent she carried with her everywhere, that she was a mess, unkempt, unloved. They didn’t know the first thing. 

They didn’t know her passion for garlic, the whole raw cloves she would sneak as snacks when she was on the clock. They couldn’t smell the twice-daily soaping and fancy lotions she gave herself underneath her pungent cloak. They didn’t know that her acne was hormonal, that she walked everywhere she went and had healthy lab results every annual physical. That was alright by Frankie. She didn’t need them to, when she knew herself so well. 

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Emma Erlanger is a writer and visual artist in Los Angeles, CA. Her writing has been published in Backchannels Magazine, and she is currently finishing a Creative Writing program with UCLA Extension. She lives with four cats, one comedian, and the everlasting hope for happy endings.

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