“Oh my God. Peter, you didn’t.”

Peter smirked at his wife’s gaping stare. “You bet I did,” he told her smugly. “Nothing’s too good for our anniversary.”

“It looks fabulous.” Beatrice’s eyes shone as she ran a finger over the plastic wrap, feeling the smooth depression her movement caused. She giggled a little. “But I don’t even know how to cook synmeat. What are we going to do with it? Look at it?”

“Don’t worry,” Peter reassured her. “The guy who sold it to me told me how to do it.” His smile increased its girth; he couldn’t hide the secret any longer. “And it’s not synmeat.”

Beatrice looked at him oddly. “Then what is it?”

“It’s real.”

Beatrice gasped, eyes wide now with horror. “Peter… you could get arrested for that!” she hissed, grabbing the mushy package from him and glancing wildly around the room as if PETA enforcers were going to burst through the walls at any moment. “I didn’t even know you could get real meat anymore!”

“Honey, calm down.” Peter frowned. He’d expected his wife to be pleased. “A guy at the office tipped me off. I swear it’s untraceable. Just look at it! Real beef! This might be the only chance we have in our lives to get some.”

Beatrice seemed unconvinced. “I don’t know… isn’t it sort of… barbaric?”

“Darling. Stop believing all the crap the government tells us. People were meant to eat real meat. It’s the way we were made. If we ate like this every day, we wouldn’t have to get protein injections anymore, that’s for sure!” Peter was getting more upset. “Come on, I went through a lot to get this, okay? It’s our anniversary, and the thing is already dead. We might as well make the most of it.”

Beatrice agreed in the interest of matrimonial bliss. She watched nervously as Peter cooked the beef, searing it as he’d been instructed, and worried about whether their neighbors would pick up on the smell. Peter eventually made her set the table to keep her from getting in the way.

At last the meal was served, and Peter bit into it with gusto. Beatrice followed suit more hesitantly and both chewed for a few moments in silence.

“It’s sort of… stringy,” Peter said at last, swallowing a bite with some difficulty. His expression of joy had faded into an uncomfortable frown. “You can really tell it’s, ah, real.”

“Mmm… yes, you can.” Beatrice swallowed her own forkful with an expression of bliss. She opened her eyes as the rich taste settled into her senses and looked at her husband with an expression of true love and devotion. “This is the best present you’ve ever given me.”