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Takeout for One

Rachel Joachimi

“Two burritos, light brown rice, chicken, 
sour cream on both, but hot salsa on just the one” 
because she can’t handle the spice. I knew his 
order by heart before he opened his mouth, but it 
was a ritual: he worshipped it like a prayer every night. 

The words always leave his tongue quickly, 
stumbling out of him like a child running recklessly 
down a hill. I think he liked the taste of her order better 
than the food. It was something he owned, a point of pride, 
a faithful disciple on his way to worship, Tex-Mex in tow. 

He was a polite, regular customer, but he never stayed 
long: this dinner had somewhere to be, as did he, and every 
second closer to her was like salvation. 
That’s why it caught my attention when, tonight, he stumbled 
in slowly, face hard, with forsaken eyes as raw and red as the hot 
salsa that he asked to be put on the only burrito he ordered.