"Who wants a snack?" Angela cheerily asked as she dropped the big Tupperware of chocolate chip cookies onto the Monopoly board on the table, scattering the cards and paper money to the side.
Drew, a woman swallowed up in a green turtleneck, stared at the black bold-lettered "Camille" on the red lid with a frown. "That's your roommate's."
Angela shrugged as she popped open the lid and pulled out a sweet-smelling cookie. Ari and Porter's eager hands darted into the bowl for the sweet treats. "So? She can easily make more."
"Yeah man," drawled Ari, a skinny stick-man with red eyes and mussed up hair. "Roomie's gotta share. Cause sharing is caring. And stuff."
"Camille should not mind," added Porter, holding his scruffy-bearded double chin in a thinker pose with one hand while propping up a cookie in the other. Angela pressed a cookie into Drew's palm and rolled her eyes at Drew's hesitant face.
Drew bit her lip, and then mirrored her friends' movements as she brought the morsel to her mouth.
All four took a bite.
Camille's baking was legendary—the spongiest sponge cakes and velvetiest red velvet cakes and more. It would be alright if she just ate one cookie, wouldn't it?
'Why not,' sneered a disgusted voice in the back of her head, 'you've already stolen her boyfriend; you might as well steal her food too.'
Shut up, Drew thought back at her conscience. She bit off a huge piece, but the taste of sugar and chocolate didn't come, just bitterness and salty guilt, which weighed on down her tongue. She wanted to spit it out.
'Not as good as Grant?' her conscience mocked.
Drew's eye twitched as she forced her herself to chew and swallow, and take another bite. It tastes fine.
'No! My job is to tell you the truth. And the truth is you've betrayed your cousin. You're screwing her boyfriend behind her back.'
Tears ran down Drew's cheeks into her mouth, mixing with the chewed up cookie to turn the taste even saltier.
Grant loves me. He told me so.
This time the voice held pity. 'You're still lying.'
The salt and words stung the inside of her mouth. Drew gulped them down anyways and licked away the tears clinging to the corners of her lips, struggling not to sob.
"What are you doing?!"
The sugary sweetness filled Porter's mouth, creeping between his teeth and under his gums and leaving him wanting more. He imagined Camille's kiss would taste just as sweet, although instead of creeping into the corners of his mouth her touch would seep into the cracks in his heart and pants.
Porter closed his eyes to better focus on the image in his mind of a short, pretty woman with chocolatey brown hair, soft porcelain skin, and a red-lipped smile. The Camille of his mind stepped into a nearby fantasy where he waited with open arms on a sandy sunset beach. She fell into his warm embrace and blinked up at him with eyes as deep and delicious as the chocolate melting inside his stomach. The breeze gently caressed her curls as the couple gazed tenderly at each other, their shapes and the sand cast in an orange glow from the setting sun.
"Oh, Porter," Camille sighed, "I cannot believe I didn't realize how perfect you were earlier! Why did I ever pick Grant over you? I was so stupid!"
"All is fine now, my lady. You know better now," he consoled like a true gentleman.
"I do!" she gushed, clinging tighter to his strong manly torso, "You are so much better than Grant and every other man! You're smarter than everyone, and charming, and strong, and such a gentleman, and…" Camille blushed, before confessing, "…and the best lover I ever had. No man can satisfy me like you can!"
Porter smirked handsomely and pressed her body closer to his. "I can," he seductively growled, and then passionately joined their lips together. Camille tasted like chocolate and cookie dough and for some reason her mouth was mushy and crumbling and—
"What are you doing?!"
When Ari bit into the cookie, he tasted puppies and rainbows. Literally. The tiny puppies yipped and jumped up and down on his tongue, their tiny paws striking his taste buds. The rainbows swirled around his canines and then tied themselves into bows around his wisdom teeth.
These cookies made him feel amazing. Either that or the acid. Or had it been the pills? Or the shrooms? Or maybe all three? Ari couldn't really remember, especially with the way the walls were rippling. Floating walls of water, like when Moses parted the Red Sea and made the water stand straight on each side.
Ari reached across the table and stuck his hand into the bubbling cauldron. He pulled out a yellow glowing cookie-bomb and crammed the whole thing into the cave of his face. This time kittens and sunshine exploded out, the kittens gleefully meowing as they surfed down his pink throat while the sunshine hovered next to his tonsils.
Ari opened his mouth wide, and was delighted to see the sunshine shining out. He was his own personal flashlight!
He glanced around, mouth still hanging wide open, to illuminate his table companions. First he shined his mouth-light on the guilty looking turtle to his right, who was quietly sniffling and licking up her tears with a striped blue tongue. She didn't notice the bright light in her eyes.
Next he focused the light across the table, on a fat donkey wearing a fedora. The donkey was too busy attempting to make out with a cookie (and disturbingly succeeding) to notice his place in the spotlight.
Ari shone his mouth to the left on a black-and-white magpie with an amused smile and a raised eyebrow. She stared straight at him! He wanted to ask her what she thought of his mouth-turned-flashlight, but couldn't talk with the sunlight filling his jaw. And then he spotted something move in the corner of his eye, and turned his face to light up the doorway, where a small grey wolf clad in a wool sweater stood with wide white eyes (all the better to see us with, thought Ari).
"What are you doing?!"
Food always tasted better when you stole it. Actually, Angela thought as she chewed, everything was better when you stole it. Even the little, petty things like Drew's homework or Ari's weed, or the paper money from the Monopoly game, or the plastic tub of Camille's delicious cookies. And speaking of little things…
Angela pasted a sympathetic expression on her face as she patted Drew's trembling hand, and ran her fingers on the thin silver bracelet under the other woman's sweater sleeve. Drew didn't respond, too caught up in her teary misery. A glance around the table revealed that her other "friends" were just as caught up in their own heads. Angela gave one last pat before smoothly sliding off the bracelet and stuffing it into her back jeans pocket.
Not one to waste such an opportunity, her hand slunk out again, this time to her left, where Porter was too busy messily Frenching a cookie to notice the hand in the low bulging pocket of his baggy cargo shorts. Angela looked down at the retrieved wallet resting on her thighs under the table, pretending to read over her cards as she fished out the dollar bills. Finished, she slid the wallet back into Porter's shorts (and he was still violating that cookie, EW) and turned to her final victim, who was gaping at her with an unhinged jaw full of chewed up cookie.
Angela snorted and quirked an eyebrow at him, which made Ari's red eyes light up with excitement as he tried to mumble through the mush in his open mouth. He was definitely high, she noted with satisfaction, which meant she could take much more from him than she usually did. Score!
Just as her hand started slinking forward again, a figure moved out of the corner of her eye. Angela craned to face the door, along with Ari, who still hadn't closed his drooling mouth.
It was only Camille, back from whatever boring places she disappeared to during the day. Angela smirked at her roommate's shocked, blanched face. Yeah, I stole your precious cookies. Did you really think locking your door and hiding your stuff would stop me? You have no idea who you're dealing with, bitch.
Camille finally spoke.
"What are you doing?!"
Camille sat cross-legged in the bushes, unmoving and unseen as she listened to the rustling leaves beneath the open window of Grant's dorm. The bushes circled his dorm, creating a sort of bushy fence, but Camille was small and flexible enough to crawl in and hide. Twigs poked her arms and cheeks and dirt stuck to her numb legs, though she had gotten used to it hours ago, right around the time her cousin had dropped by to "study" with her boyfriend. She hadn't moved a muscle the entire time as she silently listened to Drew and Grant giggle and gasp and groan. And after their "study session," when her phone had vibrated and up popped a text from Grant that read "hey babe still working on that paper! Love and miss you :)", Camille had only grit her teeth for a moment as her heart hardened its resolve.
She had waited long enough, had enough evidence. Tonight. I'm going to do it tonight.
She waited at least an hour after Grant left for work, followed shortly by Drew as she left to meet up with those losers she called friends (but not before crying to herself, why?), and then carefully crawled out of the bushes and brushed off the dirt and twigs and smoothed down her hair. Slowly walking back to her apartment, she thought of the Tupperware of cookies hidden in the locked up box in the back of her closet. Her door had a lock on it too, a good one to keep out her nosy thieving roommate and that creepy guy who liked to blab about how great he was and gawk at Camille's breasts. Camille seriously doubted Angela would be able to snoop in her room this time, and even if she did get in, she would never break the box's lock. It was too secure.
All she needed to do now was get the cookies and stash them in her bag, sneak into Grant's dorm through his window (he always liked to leave it open in the summer), swap her cookies with the ones he kept on his nightstand, go back home, and wait. Grant had a huge sweet tooth, and liked to buy tins of chocolate chip cookies for his cravings. She was positive he wouldn't notice the swap. The cookies would taste just as savory as any other, except for the tiny tang which hinted at their special extra ingredient.
Camille twisted the knob and stepped into her apartment, scowling as she recognized the pairs of shoes lined up against the wall. Why did Angela keep inviting these people over?
She stepped down the hallway and into the small lighted living room, where four figures crowded around a monopoly game and a familiar Tupperware container.
Camille's body suddenly felt like jelly and lead and clouds at the same time. She surveyed the four, face paling more and more with each set of crumb-covered lips she counted. Two pairs of eyes stared straight at her: Ari's dazed red wild ones and Angela's sharp challenging green ones.
"What are you doing?!" she cried out, as all the attention in the room focused on her. Her next words refused to come out, caught in her throat.
I poisoned those.