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A Taste of Time

When you need it most

By Frances Leah BrownPublished 10 months ago Updated 10 months ago 6 min read
A Taste of Time
Photo by Danie Franco on Unsplash

Janet's morning was a tripping, sloppy, burnt toast and spilled coffee affair that had her standing in the middle of the small kitchen, the brown coffee spill soaking into her blouse, thinking about calling in sick. Maybe she should just strip, crawl in bed, beg her cat, Miss Kitty, to snuggle and hide for the rest of the day. She rolled her eyes and walked to her closet as she stripped off the ruined blouse, saying "Shit shit shit." as she went. She changed her clothes, put her shoes on and looked in the mirror. She looked as off center as she felt. "It will be fine." She whined as she grabbed her keys, stuffed her bus pass into her pocket and left the apartment.

When Janet returned, she couldn't control the tears that she'd repressed on the way home that were now spilling down her face as she unlocked her door, stepped inside and locked it behind her. Miss Kitty came up to greet her as Janet slid down the door to sit on the floor and cry. Miss Kitty took this as her cue for her to rub her cheek against the side of Janet's shoe. "Ah Miss Kitty. Want dinner?" Janet sniffed, smiling sideways through her tears. Miss Kitty ran to the kitchen with her tail straight up.

After a shower and some leftover curry and rice, Janet sat on the couch with Miss Kitty and scrolled through things to watch on Netflix as she talked absent mindedly to her cat. "I think I got myself fired today. Not officially, but I'll bet that announcement will come tomorrow." She said as she looked at the pictures and titles on the screen, but didn't notice them. "Never, never go into HR to report a problem employee when the problem employee is best friends with that HR person. It's never going to end well." She pulled the blanket around her shoulders and selected a favorite Jane Austin film when her phone pinged "Delivery." Janet got to her feet and retrieved the large box. "What did I order?" She mumbled as she looked at the label but found no information on the sender, so she shrugged as she put it on the floor by the couch and grabbed the scissors from the junk drawer. But before she could open the scissors, Miss Kitty jumped onto the top of the box and sat down. "Oh. Is this yours? Did you order yourself a box?" Miss Kitty answered with a loud purr ,then draped herself across the top of the box. "Catnip. You ordered kitty pot didn't you, you little pothead." As Janet knelt beside the box, the lights went out. "Are you kidding me?" She looked out her windows into the dark city and threw her head back. "A blackout?" Miss Kitty was unphased and continued to purr, rubbing against the box. Janet put the scissors down and crawled over to the couch to look for her phone, then stopped to look out and see the strange flicker of other people's phones in apartments across the street. "Alright." She said as she turned on the flashlight, lifted Miss Kitty off the box, and opened the scissors to cut the packing tape off the sides and down the middle. She pulled the top back and looked inside at the stupid packing peanuts. "These better be the melt in water kind." She hissed. She fished through them, reaching further in until her fingers met another box shape. She lifted it out and peanuts tumbled onto the floor to Miss Kitty's delight. Janet started to laugh as her cat batted the stuff around and pounced at it sideways, her tail puffed and whiskers forward. "You're wacky." Janet said as she cut the tape on the smaller box and opened it. She pulled out two binders and sucked in a breath of surprise. The smaller binder, covered in course blue fabric, held her mother's recipes. The other large red and white one held her grandma's. Janet opened the blue binder and ran her finger over her mother's unique script, a mixture of printing and cursive, that she hadn't seen in ten years. Then she opened the other and saw the perfect small cursive of her grandmother's writing. She'd looked for these books first when her mother had died, then again after her grandmother's death. Her mother's house was sold and most of her things were given away or sold and the rest boxed up and stored in her brother's barn. She'd gone through those boxes last year, helping to get rid of things no one was interested in anymore; silverware and fiesta ware that they'd used for special dinners, crystal punch bowls, old clothes, books and jewelry. But there had been no recipe book. She remembered that after her grandma's death, her recipe book had been a mystery that had set relatives bickering over who had run off with it without admitting to it. Now here they both were, in her hands.

She searched through the smaller box for a note, then emptied the peanuts out onto the floor in hopes of finding some sort of message from the person who'd sent it, but there was no note. She sat back down on the couch with her mother's cook book, her phone's light shining as she looked over the recipes, having sense memories of them; how old she was when she'd first had that chicken tortilla casserole. Those damn fine cinnamon rolls that Janet's brothers had devoured when they were still hot in the pan. The tamale pie that she remembered smelling on autum days coming home from school. Then she opened her grandma's book and found her biscuit recipe. They'd never gotten her to tell her secret, and now Janet laughed out loud. "Lard! The secret was lard?!"

By the time the lights came on again, Janet was on the phone with her sister, asking her if she'd been the one to send the books, but she swore she didn't know a thing about it. Janet took a picture with her phone and sent it to her sister, who whooped with surprise and joy. "I know, right? I'm going to make copies of all the pages and send them to you." Janet promised. She ended the call, bounced on the couch and looked at Miss Kitty. "You know what? I've got an idea for a youtube channel. Want to be my sous chef?"

The next day Janet handed in her resignation letter, which was accepted with pursed lips by the woman in HR, and at the end of the week she grabbed her few belongings from her desk and left with a smile on her lips. She got home, called some friends with an invitation to dinner, grabbed her grocery bags. "It will be fine." She said to her reflection before she headed out to get ingredients for her grandma's biscuits and her mother's great big pot of chili.


About the Creator

Frances Leah Brown

I am a singer, a story teller on stage and in print, and a lover of family and nature.

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