During their short courtship, Carl had spent his spare moments between the television and the oven. Cooking was his new kick. The nights he stayed with her, he’d rush home from K-9 Champions, where he worked as a dog trainer, and pounce on dinners.
“You’re not eating?” he’d say.
“My roast, he swallowed, not eating a damn thing!”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Janie, it’s home-cooked. I dreamed it up for you.”
Carl was sitting on a bar-stool with his visor perched on his head. If Carl wasn’t plopped in front of the television, he was busy cluttering the kitchen. Oh, he could find one thousand ways to annoy her in the house. If he wasn’t slicing, he was dicing, whipping or blending. Sometimes, Jane wished she could shove him inside that damn oven and turn the heat to 500 degrees.
“What are you cooking now?” she asked, in a high-pitched tone, after scrubbing every counter.
“Chili…for the potluck prize at work.”
“Money-money-money,” he sang, then,“where’s the cumin?” he snapped, like she was a collie on command.
His phone had been ringing and ringing. She could hear him discussing recipes with co-workers, but Jane wanted to relax after being on her feet at work. Still, the distractions were heavy. The more she thought about it, the tension grew. In the beginning, Carl’s energy was exciting, playful like one of the fuzzy poodles he’d trained. He was fun, flirty, but over time, he became bossy.
Now Jane was preparing her bubble, salt bath. She lingered in the warm water, and thought of everything, then nothing and welcomed silence. Her spirits were lifted when she stepped into a silky gown.
Then, tat…tat came a noise from the kitchen…tat…tat…tat. Carl was chopping vegetables for his glorious chili.
“Can you keep it down Carl?
“I need more butter! Here, taste this!” he barked, shoving a
spoon under her nose, smelling of onions.”
“What?” his eyes were bloodshot.
“What?” “It’s too strong,” she sighed.
“Come on,” he snapped, like she was a pug on a leash.
“It’s just, well, not the right blend.”
Carl searched her face, “Right blend? What?” He glared at her as if she were toothless.
“Carl, we’re not the right blend. Listen, I’m sorry. I need you to leave!”
But she wasn’t sorry. It just sounded polite, the right word shoved inside an empty moment. Turning on her heel, feeling lighter, she walked down the hallway as the front door slammed. The noise reminded her he’d left a monster mess in the kitchen. Still, she felt as if she were floating, gliding, as that cool silk brushed against her with a slight tingle, that tickling of the skin, and it gave her a tiny thrill.