Updated: Jan 10
The smell of peanut butter pancakes crept into her nose and pulled her from the comfort of the california king-sized bed we found ourselves in at the end of most nights. Thoughts running through my head on how I should say what needs to be said, if now was as good a time as any. Were the possible repercussions worth it?
The peanut butter and honey covered pancakes should soften the blow. Two girls have gotten treatment like this before her, she doesn’t know that, but she has an idea she’s someone I care most about. They were sort of a ritual for us at this point. They’d become a staple of our relationship. So, the smell of peanut butter pancakes pulled her from her slumber in a mood unlike any. The mood where a girl has that moment when they feel like a guy actually, genuinely cares for them, on a level deeper than the physical kind. She was in one of those moods this morning. The glow on a woman’s face in that mood is something entirely too beautiful to hurt. So, this morning I might be closer to a monster than a chef. The pan and spatula had no idea, though, they worked in communion with me anyway.
Soft footsteps move down the stairs and into the kitchen, followed by a kiss on my shoulder and arms wrapped around my waist. A picture could be taken at this very moment and 3,000 likes would come shortly after. Comments of how we were goals and couples who cook for each other are the best couples, behind that. Her friends would screenshot it and post it in their group chat, to discuss how I’m hubby of the year or how the pancakes wouldn’t be the only thing in their mouth that morning. My boys would send it in our group chat, firing me up, talking about how I’m in love or some shit like that.
But the picture wouldn’t be taken, and this would be one of those moments that is our moment.
One of those moments only you and the person you share that moment with will remember. Moments that lead to tears being shed when the honeymoon phase is over and the other person isn’t as interested as you thought they were. Tears that feel like acid flowing down your face, or memories that feel like pain when what I’m about to say is said. Because, it’s always harder to remember the good that someone brought into your life when they've pulled a magic trick and disappeared out of it.
Caressing my face, she guided it to the side and laid her lips on mine. A butterfly would be jealous at how swift her lips landed. Securing her, I brought my arm down around her lower back. Moving the curtains aside, I brushed the stray hairs from the bun atop her head out of her face with my other hand. My eyes rose, down from her lips up to her eyes. Caught by those baby blues, I was arrested by the depth. The glow followed. She and The Sun had an undeniable chemistry. Creeping in onto her face, it highlighted every beautiful thing I’d be missing if I said what I was premeditating. If I did what I thought needed to be done. Morning texts that were so thoughtful, and so genuine would be gone. People I could talk to late night, but no opinion as valuable as hers, no mind as deep.
Flipping the pancake, I couldn't help but look at the drawer. My eyes were glued to it, almost as if something on the inside of that drawer held the key to the other half of my life. I managed to pull my vision away from the drawer, I looked at something far more enticing. The love of my life sat at the table accompanied by a glass of orange juice and the two pancakes I made for her. She turned on Signed, Sealed, and Delivered. And reminded me why I chose her in the first place. A woman with great taste in music is a woman too cool to only hangout with once. Unlimited might be too limited of a number for her. Finishing the pancake I was working on and tossing it onto my plate, I felt a tug on my vision towards the drawer again. Our kitchen was aesthetically pleasing, decorated by our designer, a close friend of hers. Maybe that’s what led my eyes to that drawer so frequently this morning, it was her favorite drawer in the loft, always full of paperwork.
In her white robe and nothing else. If beauty had a picture example for it in the dictionary, you’d see her in this very moment.
Or you’d see her how he saw her last month.
She reached across the table for my hand and I swiped it away, standing up on key to make it not look too suspicious. The drawer was calling me, a little stronger this time. I gave in and opened it, ambushed by the valentines card she got me last year, riddled with loving words handwritten by her. Pulling me further away from saying what needed to be said. Shoving the emotions away that swam up the shoreline of my heart as fast as my heartbeat rose, I grabbed what lay under the valentines card.
A packet. A packet, to get me through what needed to be said. Pictures of my wife and my best friend. In the bedroom, doing more than changing the sheets of the bed. In this very apartment i bought for us to share on special occasions like valentines day, date nights away from the kids or what not. My Private Investigator, a friend from college, took the pictures when she followed my wife after a fight we’d had. The kids asked where mommy went, but I had no idea and tried my best to steer them away from reality and into the creative imagination that was the cartoon on the tv. Under the pictures inside the packet was the divorce papers my lawyer had drawn up the week before. Focused on her instagram feed and the pancakes in front of her face, she had no idea the mental dialogue i was going through right now. She had no idea the pile of shit I was ready to drop on the plate of pancakes her taste buds were enjoying.
The intrusive smell of peanut butter ran through my nostrils and carried me far into the past. To the first time I'd made them for her, when marriage and kids were as distant as a re-election for donald trump. There are things in our lives: songs, places, objects, or smells that carry us back to times in our past. These things keep us captive in memories so beautiful they belong in a movie. Moments that operate as mental and emotional handcuffs. Moments that should never be forgotten. But, moments that should no longer be fantasized. The peanut butter handcuffs I found myself in at this very moment were strong. We all have our own. But, I couldn't sit in the comfortable illusion of something that no longer existed, or at least not in my eyes anymore. It wasn’t my reality.
The packet felt like lava in my hands, heating, heating, heating. I wanted to put it down, to throw it away. Fall back asleep, forget what’s been revealed. Make the goddamn pancakes and keep it moving, smile through the pain. Better yet forget about the pain. Become numb, lose all feeling-- That seems to work well for people. Soulless skeletons in loveless relationships. What about the kids? What about what I own? She’s gonna take some of it. Her lawyer will most likely be at my throat throughout the process. What about our families, and friends? What the fuck would they think? We were relationship goals. Doesn’t that mean anything anymore? Fuck. Is this where all the unhappiness in America comes from? People staying in marriages they shouldn’t be in, for unforeseen reasons? For one excuse after the other? Am I really going to fall in line and give into the divorce rate in America? Am I really going to give in and give into the unhappiness scale of America?
No better way to staple a key life event in her mind than with the intrusive smell of these peanut butter pancakes. No better way to close the chapter, than the way it began. The thing that gave it color, depth, and significance. These pancakes were the common thread between the people who meant the most to me in a romantic sense. She was the queen of my emotional mountain, her head was the biggest on the Mount Rushmore of lovers that sat in my romantic glossary. A
top my emotional geography, she had stuck her flag. Now, it must go. The sweetest of farewells is magnified by the peanut butter pancakes at the brink of extinction on her plate. Her army of taste buds was doing quick work of them, the weapons of mass destruction were the knife and fork.
I mustered the emotional strength I thought I needed, and followed the tile of the kitchen to the table. Before I made it to the beautiful brown wood table, she picked her head up from her phone and looked down toward my hand. No, not the one with the fork for the pancakes, the one with the packet. Confused, she brushed the loose hair hanging from her bun out of her face and wrinkled her eyebrows. An unlocking sound came from the door. Was it him? Did she really give him the key to our apartment? The apartment I got us for special occasions, and date nights.
The door to the apartment flew open, and in came the two kids we’d created.