Pepperoni

The tupperware bowl sat

in the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.

From there, it mocked everyone-

Daughter and her family:

the visiting vegetarians.

Married couple:

the embarrassed hosts.

But, mainly, it mocked the stepdaughter;

the offensive salad’s creator.

The peculiar swirls of multicolored pasta,

mimicking vegetable patch’s variety,

leave oily skid marks on plastic’s side.

The pool of Italian dressing slowly soaked

by rotini’s thirst- mixed in are

bits of feta, chopped pepper, skinny sliced onion,

and the vile enemy-

tiny, round pieces of pepperoni.

The salad had been made a week before,

the upcoming visit far from her mind,

by the hungry step daughter- she fumbled in

what she could find, in pursuit of her

favorite summer snack. When others arrived,

however, the large blue lid was peeled back

to reveal the tragedy it held.

“We’ll have to make a new one” the step-mom commented,

but let the atrocity lay on its shelf, an

open casket for all to mourn.

Each day, a shower of new comments

circled around the salad’s scandal-

each accompanied with a glance of

annoyance threw her way.

“Pasta salad would go well with this,” daughter’s husband

would comment, his plate feeling its absence.

“Make sure Aunt Jude brings vegetarian salad,”

the daughter would say, adding with her glance,

“with no pepperoni in it.”

The stepdaughter sat, head hung

knowing Clinton could sooner forget Monica

than them let slip away her meaty blunder.

Four adults between them could not produce

another salad, but instead created in her the deep knot

of knowledge that she sat at their family table

as unwanted as her carnivorous creation.

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