She didn’t mind, she told me– to nourish, to sustain– this is the role of the mother, and how the body is made. Women who become mothers nurse their children, and mothers who become baguettes nurse the world. Should I describe the progression of her doughy body from lady to bread, reeking of yeast? I fell in love with her when she was only a little lady, her body just ripe, laughing in a circle of other, older ladies, hard and half-stale. She had amber hair and a luscious throat that vibrated when she threw her head back to laugh. I pinched her palm when she walked by me, and then her ass, and begged her to dine with me in my yellow house by the sea. Three milky sunsets later, and she was mine.
That summer, my not-yet-baguette and I ate late dinners of old cheese on a red blanket and made love all over the archipelago. We consumed and consummated, first against a factory chimney, her cheek pressed to the brick, and then in abandoned rowboats and broken silos that were dotted with weeds. My lady’s skin collected splinters and hay-scrapes, and I kissed her imperfections as she snored.
Later, half-baguette, she would avoid the sea, but that summer I could still watch beads of seawater roll down her skin in the rowboat, rocking under the moon. She wanted to be strong, and spent several hours each day in the abandoned quarry, singing to herself as she lifted stone lintels, half-hewn. She returned with mollusk shells and placed them in a circle around the crack in our bedroom window. And each night, after making love, she would breathe her lady’s breath in the crook of my neck as I ran my fingertips down the flank of her thigh.
At our wedding, the other ladies threw flour to mark the change, and she smiled in her little lady way, touching her fingers in delight to the white dusting in her hair. I ran my tongue on the tooth-edge of my lips, in love.
I discovered that my lady was pregnant when she built a crib during one of my daily baths. To prepare for the rise, she avoided squats in the quarry and took to sitting at the table, picking sesame seeds from her hair. Dimples developed like baby teeth across her haunches, and I traced my fingers over them at the sink, aroused by their concavity, their doughy softness.
The smell of her yeast seeped through the house; so the years slipped too, and my lady bore me three full-cheeked children in our bedroom with the mollusk shells, each ripping into the world under a twilight sky.
Like many ladies, she resisted her development to baguette, and first tried to wash away her stench with soaps. From behind the bathroom door, I observed her spongy upper arms, now spotted with burnt seeds, wobbling as they scrubbed. Listeners– did I hear a sniffle, or see a crystal of salt, cradled in the crook of her eye?
That day, I left my lady alone.
The children loved her. They lay in her arms in the living room, and circled her on the lawn, laughing. She kissed their scrapes and wiped their tears, and in their primal way, they smelled her, leaning in for little licks behind her ears, their eyes bright. Jealous, I developed a curious habit of rubbing my hand down her hardening bottom (long closed to my advances), sipping my morning coffee, and tasting the ferment on my palm.
Her skin browned, became brittle. The children, sparring with their toy spatulas, left slashes in her skin, the air pockets underneath uneven, a sourdough.
These gaps preoccupied me. I fantasized– in the quarry, in the rowboat, in riptides with other ladies– about rubbing my pinkie finger under the edge of her air pockets, touching bread, nail scraping the crust. In the films of my dreams, my lady’s gaps reversed into positive space, solarized and overexposed, replacing the memories of her long-faded nipples– these blurred, lovely spots on the body of my beloved baguette.
On the last low-lit Sunday, I woke to the six eyes of my children, whimpering that my lady had not brought them their milk.
Behind me, my love lay silent.
In the soft seconds before I turned over, I thought of my early love– her creamy throat, her light-strewn hair, dancing with me, dusted with flour.
The rounded tip of the baguette, unyielding, lay flush against my lady’s headboard. She was plump for a baguette, nearly French and light brown, her girth swelling and receding where her waist had been, the flakes of her crust a tease of the soft whiteness underneath. The bottom nub of the baguette was darker than the top, twisted and imperfect. Three diagonal baker’s cuts lay parallel down the length of her body, the ridge of each opening curving down to a lattice of dough, split and baked a light brown.
The children climbed on the bed with soft sighs, licking their lips.
Deep under the valley of the top slit, I saw– what? – a memory. Two wet spots, flitting at each face, in turn.
The brown eyes of my lady.
We craved her.
We ate her– in adulation– with butter.
Elizabeth Brus is a writer and recovering teacher. You can find her work (now or soon) in The Evergreen Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Fiction International, The Normal School, The Belladonna Comedy, and elsewhere. She was also named as a finalist in contests by Prime Number Magazine, Philadelphia Stories, and Gigantic Sequins. Returning to writing after a long hiatus, Elizabeth worked in education for almost fifteen years and still side-hustles as a tutor and curriculum writer. She served with The United States Peace Corps in Lesotho from 2005-2007 and lives with her family in Brooklyn, NY. Find her on Twitter @ElizabethBrus