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A Love for Chocolate: Fiction by Kevin Hopson
Ban the Box: Fiction by David Hagerty
Different Paths: Fiction by K. A. Williams
Night Sight: Fiction by C. A. Rowland
Encounter on the Lane: Fiction by Anthony Lukas
Moving South: Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Just a Small-Town Boy: Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Loneliness of a Reseller: Fiction by Brandon Doughty
Food Chain: Fiction by Phil Temples
Final Notice: Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Stunning Redheads are Trouble: Flash Fiction by Paul Beckman
Point Made: Flash Fiction by Martin Zeigler
The Secret Ingredient: Flash Fiction by Cecilia Kennedy
Stand in Line: Flash Fiction by Lucinda Kempe
My Special Garden: Flash Fiction by Gay Degani
Revenge of the Inanimate: Flash Fiction by M. L. Fortier
The Abductee: Poem by Sophia Wiseman-Rose
De-Icing Fate: Poem by Tom Fillion
Description of Death: Poem by Meg Baird
Basking in Sunlight: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
Found Floating Above: Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen
Beer-Craving Zombie: Poem by Bradford Middleton
They All Hate My Hero: Poem by Bradford Middleton
In Search of Ghosts: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Seven Hanging Trees: Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Persistent Daylight: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Rebirth: Poem by Michael Keshigian
Bundy: Poem by Peter Mladinic
Calais: Poem by Peter Mladinic
The Room: Poem by Peter Mladinic
People with Dysentery: Poem by Partha Sarkar
There Has Been No Cooperative System: Poem by Partha Sarkar
Goes Back Toward the Talisman-the Future: Poem by Partha Sarkar
The Broken Seashore and the Fishermen: Poem by Partha Sarkar
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Strange Gardens
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

Cecilia Kennedy: The Secret Ingredient

Art by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal © 2023

The Secret Ingredient


                                      by Cecilia Kennedy



Curry powder spills from the bottle when I open the spice drawer. I should probably replace it, but I don’t. I’ll use every last bit, even the parts that cake up under the lid, when I shake it over the soup stock, which is in big demand to this day—every family reunion, every potluck. It’s no secret. The winning recipe was published ages ago, but no one saved it. Recipes abound, remedies abound—someone’s got to have the secret formula for the saving salve, the extra EpiPen for the little girl in Andsprit County, who was allergic to walnuts, but when the time came, the kitchen drawer was empty, except for a few walnut shells—and my parents had to find the neighbors, several miles down the road.




          The Sweet Michigan Cherry Pie Sweepstakes Champion added a dash of almond extract to her recipe. That was it—and she won. The Twisty Bar Chocolate Champ added toasted walnuts to the brownie batter—and that was enough to declare her a winner. So when I saw the call for the Cozy Chicken Noodle Soup Cook-Off, I knew just what to do: I added one new ingredient, curry powder. It made all the difference in the world—the difference between first and second place.




          “Send a Little Love” comes through in an email online, late at night. It’s a chain letter of sorts, which I haven’t seen in years. They used to come in the mailbox when I was growing up—mostly threats of bad luck if you didn’t send the letter to at least ten other people. I open the message online. No threats. Just a proposal: Send recipes to three people you know by forwarding the email on. I choose my daughters and my sister. They could use my chicken noodle soup recipe, so I send it, with curry powder still stuck under my nails, a fluorescent yellow, sprinkling away as I type.




          Sometimes, I see shadows walking past my window. Sometimes, I hear the door downstairs, open on its own. The drawer in the kitchen rattles, and I think I see footprints in the morning, but I live out in the country. No one would come out this far, to open the kitchen drawer.




          The messages come pouring in: Someone’s used my credit card. Someone’s tried to take loans out in my name. I’m so busy entering new passwords and opening new bank accounts that I hardly hear the knock on the door. But I do hear something, so I go downstairs and open the front door to find a bowl of soup left on the front porch. There’s no note attached—just a bowl of chicken noodle soup—and when I taste it, I recognize that whoever prepared it, did something different. They added saffron threads and thickened it slightly. And then, I remember whose recipe this is: the second-place winner’s, made with saffron and walnuts.


With my breath already beginning to catch in my throat, my tongue just beginning to swell, I race to the kitchen to find that the curry powder is missing, along with the EpiPen—and all the neighbors are so far away.




Cecilia Kennedy (she/her) taught English and Spanish in Ohio for 20 years before moving to Washington state with her family. Since 2017, she has published stories in international literary magazines and anthologies. Her work has appeared in Yellow MamaMaudlin House, Tiny Molecules, Rejection Letters, Kandisha Press, Ghost Orchid Press, and others.

Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal lives in California and works in the mental health field in Los Ángeles. His artwork has appeared over the years in Medusa’s KitchenNerve Cowboy, The Dope Fiend Daily, and Rogue Wolf PressVenus in Scorpio Poetry E-Zine. 

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2023