Moments in Time: Breaking Fast

The hangover could be survived, if he didn’t move too quickly and nobody talked to him. And if he could get a cup of coffee in the next five minutes.

Lumbering downstairs and lurching to the communal kitchen of the beach house, he heard movement and clattering behind the louvered doors. He prayed he wouldn’t face a crowd as he shouldered in. Thank God, it was only K there, perhaps the one person he could stand at that time and place.

He mumbled a greeting of some kind and she smiled at him. “There’s coffee,” she murmured, then disappeared behind the refrigerator door.

He negotiated himself a cup and leaned against the counter, hands wrapped needily around the stoneware mug. K’s hand popped up and over the top edge of the fridge door, holding a small carton of half-and-half. Touched and grateful, he took it. She must have observed previous breakfasts and knew he liked half-and-half and not milk. The door shut and she came back to the stove with eggs and butter.

Clutching his coffee, he watched her light the stove and lay a small skillet on the burner. She went here for a bowl, there for a fork, rifled in a drawer for a spatula. She cracked two eggs, beat them briskly, tossed the shells in the sink and wiped her fingers on a dishtowel. A pat of butter into the pan. Back over to the fridge for a hamburger roll left over from last night’s dinner, the ketchup and a slice of cheese.

She didn’t talk to him. He watched her. She wore navy blue sweatpants and a small white t-shirt. Her feet were bare with pale pink toenails. Her hair was in a rumpled ponytail and she had on her glasses.  One part of his thick, muddy mind marveled she could look purposeful and sleepy at the same time.  A second part thought she smelled very nice.  A third opined that what she did to sweatpants should be illegal.

He took a sip of coffee and told all of his mind to kindly shut up.

A waterfall of pale yellow from bowl to skillet and the eggs were scrambled. Deftly she moved them about with the spatula, eventually gathering them into a perfectly-sized lump which she draped with the slice of cheese. She turned off the heat, covered the skillet.  The hamburger roll went onto a plate and ketchup was spiraled onto it. The eggs and cheese were assembled, the top roll pressed on, and the plate set down on the table where her own coffee was waiting, along with a book.

He looked longingly at the sandwich, then looked with different longing at K, and the curve of her hips beneath clothes still rumpled with sleep and smelling of her bed upstairs.

She picked up the skillet, turned to deposit it in the sink and finally acknowledged his staring presence. She raised her eyebrows at his confused expression, a single wisp of hair sliding in her face. He let go one hand from his cup and, as if in a dream, reached out his index finger. He caught that single stand of hair and carefully tucked it back behind her ear. Her eyes swiveled, following his finger to the side.  They closed briefly when it touched the arm of her glasses in that secret place behind her earlobe. Five beats of pure, chemical silence passed. Then her face seemed to flood with understanding.

“Do you want one, too?” she said.

He nodded, still speechless. And wanting many things. Laughing under her breath, she pointed at the plate of breakfast with her spatula.

“Sit,” she said.  “Take that one.”

“It’s yours,” he said.

“You look like you need it more than I do. Sit down.”

He sat. Biting into the buttery, cheesy goodness and watching her crack another two eggs, he began to break.


Photo Credit (creative commons): ArbyReed