Short story about loneliness: Cornucopia

July 6, 2023

Painting in acrylics: ‘Rebecca’ by Miriam Chan

Rebecca Pattni’s bittersweet tale of avoiding reality in difficult times

Solitary as she was, in the room of her own, she was never lonesome.

To her, the bareness of the space felt like her heart, a glass box housing a few delicate souvenirs of her life, oh-so fragile and tempting to touch.

Except, today, the emptiness of this place was replaced by an abundance of delicacies laid before her.

An external depiction of her inner thoughts, the pastries beneath her fingers, in her grasp, in her mouth, felt like an overwhelming accumulation of her desire, her sorrow, her loneliness. Everything she had pushed down and longed to ignore.

The velvety layers of pastry, their intertwining knots, showed a striking resemblance to the tight curls of her cascading dark hair. The chocolate treats sat there like a mockery of the twists in her stomach.

She wasn’t alone sat beside the rotting flowers, their colour fading like someone had dropped a splash of water on a painting. Their necks were heavy, drooping, soaking up the substance of her thoughts.

[authquote text=”Her stomach churned, the cornucopia of food wore looks of distain”]

Yet, as flecks of light reverberated around the golden tray of plums, she was reminded of the infinite possibilities of her life. Each ray of light zipping off in countless directions like the opportunities almost within her reach.

The fruits’ peculiar smell lingered like the strangely familiar scent of something she wished to forget.

She didn’t feel alone when a glittering haze of light crept in, glistened on her golden butter knife, sat there shining like a perfectly bad idea.

Her stomach churned while the cornucopia of food wore looks of distain, when the powdered sugar on the pies beneath her wrote messages she dared
not repeat.

It was at that moment, as she looked down at the patchy fabric of the table, a wild sense of distortion overcame her.

The dusty, decaying tulips wilted into the jar of sticky sweets, which seeped into the compote of fruit. Their juice jarred with the centrepiece of pastries, on the verge of toppling into a chaos of colour and sound, a frenetic diorama of her innermost troubles.

The crumbs from pies and pastries sighed lightly; the stains from blackberries cried silently

Jerking forward, she spat out a blackberry that was lodged in her throat, suddenly regaining a sense of autonomy. But never had she felt more alone than she did then, as solitary as the blackberry rolling off the table, disappearing into the chasm of her restless mind.

Like a palette knife wiping away colours, her mind was cleared and she returned to the room. The plates once populated with sickly sweet treats, keen and bursting to be tasted, were now left empty and desolate.

The crumbs from pies and pastries sighed lightly; the stains from blackberries cried silently. The plates left lonely, holding only the memory of what had adorned them.

It was as though her thoughts were erased, all tastes of her past effaced. Now all that remained was the cloying stench of what could have been.

She had no inkling as to how she had consumed the food that was beneath her. Stuck flittering between reality and dream, she was unsure of how much was real.

The only consolation was that she knew the end was near, a pathway out of this syrupy hole. No longer would her fingers be stained by sugary euphoria, she was wise enough to know that no amount of sweetness could fill her hungry heart.

Rebecca is studying English Language and Literature, Philosophy and Psychology at Woodhouse College. She's passionate about feminism and expressing what it's like to have mixed heritage through her writing.

Other work

Donate via PayPal

Exposure is an award-winning youth communications charity giving young people in north London a voice.

Please support us to continue our work. Thank you.