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Dinner guests

when a meal is more than a meal

evening meal

It is snowing outside, big puffy flakes. The sky wasn’t quite dark, the house was. “I should start dinner, “she thought, the quiet luring her in, the clumps of snow remind her of huddling teenagers. She was grateful that the snow just allowed her to be there, her presence unnoticed. She feels a sense of safety in the anonymity like wearing only lingerie under a ski coat, no one knows what’s there.

It feels powerful, she pulls the thick woven blanket over her shoulders now and shifts her weight. Her eyes close and again she is taken back to the memory, the last time they were together, Hawaii, the big island. That big house his aunt let them use for 2 full weeks, no distractions. That one evening stood out to her the peach-pink sunset, the color of romance. The long walks they would take, how many hours were too many hours spent watching the ocean, or which swimsuit to wear seemed to be their biggest decisions. They spent much of their time together, the way they fed each other with food, with thought, with adoration and attention, fed her here even now. She had felt so free there. It seemed quieter, it felt like there was an opportunity to feel held, to be seen, to be all of her, without even saying a word, or doing a thing. She couldn’t describe it. She couldn’t discern whether it was him, or them or there. Any time she would go to recreate that feeling whether in imagination or in real-time, it was never quite right. The reality that the sensation in her was only ripe in the memories.

The cat meowed and her attention flung back into the room like a tennis ball ricocheting off of a wall.

She dragged herself now off the couch, letting the blanket plop to the ground, its departure graceful and easy. She couldn’t help but bring her memories to the kitchen. They were a part of her, they lived within her and they echoed inside of her bones, creaking as she walked.

As she began to slice the onions tears filled her eyes, that red sting burning her nostrils. She welcomed the tears, and let her eyes overflow, letting the tears land onto the board with the pile of diced onions, she moved as if the tears were part of the recipe, that the tears would bring out the regret, the pain, and the mystery that life offers each of us. It was an alchemy that could not be planned.

She stood there breathing deeply. She turned away from the stove, toward the sink, through the window the thick whirling snow dancing in a dimmer sky, the kitchen lights were on, now she could see her reflection as well as the snow, and it was as if she was inside her very own snow globe. The water shushed into the sink over the colander of cremini mushrooms, their brown gritty tops sliding off easily under the brushing of her thumb and the rush of cool water, letting them ride down toward the drain before moving onto the next. The onions aromating the room and she chuckled, a noise barely audible had anyone else been with her, and she heard herself say suddenly "oh yes, now it smells so gourmet," her voice echoed slightly off of the high ceilings, and she diced the garlic as small as she could muster- the potency sinking into the cut on her pinky finger. The water was simmering now and she added the thick noodles and got a cup of cold water ready, just like he had shown her. And again she paused, feeling like she would love somehow to feel that same relief. The relief that the noodles must feel, after boiling and the hot penetrating every cell of her, changing the consistency from dry and brittle to slippery, smooth, and delicate. Oh, the thoughts of cold water pouring over her skin, creating prickles and awareness at the nape of her neck. That momentary break from it all. Again, that peachy pink color, that sunset, that night. She told him she loved him this night, and they wept together. They sat in silence watching the sky as if an oracle would pop out and reassure them it would all work out, that everything would be ok. The smell of burning brought her back. Symbolic, she sneered.

She acted quickly stirring the onions and adding the carrots that were idly chopped while she was off in her daydream memory space.

She wished to squeeze the nutrients out of the memory, thinking somehow that if she ate them, if she digested them, it would be easier to accept that he was gone, giving her a physical way to really re-live the story that was them.

Claire Hunter
Claire Hunter
Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'
Claire Hunter
See all posts by Claire Hunter

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