Well, didn’t I just write this in a big puff of procrastination? While trying to rouse myself up to doing one more load of laundry, I decided to write this cooking story, because I’d been dreaming recently about how nice it would be to bump elbows with someone in a kitchen while attempting to cook together. So now my laundry isn’t done, and I still have other work to do. Thankfully, this story isn’t too long.
Samuel woke up at six that Saturday, as though it was any regular working day for him. On his right, he checked his alarm clock and saw that it was not set. On his left, Adelaide lay with her back turned towards him, warmly breathing in her sleep. So she did get home last night, he thought to himself. He had forgotten what it was that kept her out all night. It was Saturday. They used to spend Saturdays together, alone, he thought. When they had just married, moved into the little apartment together in this strange and uncomfortable city, they would go out shopping for groceries in the morning, then arrive home and together would try and learn how to cook. The cookbook would sit on their cluttered little kitchen counter and humbly let itself be covered in flour and salt. Samuel would chop up the carrots or onions, or meat, or chives, and Adelaide would stare at the pan on the stove and dubiously throw things in, stir questioningly, ask Samuel to read a part of the recipe again, just to make sure. And Samuel, turning around to look into the pot himself, would bump into Adelaide and she’d nudge him in return, causing them both to laugh happily at each other.
When it was that they stopped cooking on Saturdays, Samuel didn’t know. They both worked and the hours were long. They came home exhausted at different times and ate their meals separately. Adelaide also started working on Saturdays–that was probably why, he thought, that Saturdays became their day to ignore each other. She had different friends than him. He was always busy with work. She complained about having to do the chores all the time. They didn’t share so many interests as he had thought.
This Saturday was special, Samuel knew, because Adelaide wasn’t going to work. Also, he had gotten up early. He forced himself to climb out of bed. The air was shockingly cold and it caused him a headache. He somehow managed to stumble into the kitchen to make coffee. After waking himself up, he changed, brushed his teeth, and picked up his car keys. The old cookbook was still on the bookshelf, coated with dust. He wiped it clean with his sleeve, then flipped through it a little. Some pages still felt a little gritty. It must have been some old flour. He took the cookbook with him to the grocery store to buy some ingredients.
When he arrived home, Adelaide was already seated at the kitchen counter, bundled up in a thick sweater, drinking coffee with a tired, scowling face. She was still trying to rouse herself up from heavy sleep and barely glanced at him as he came in through the door carrying bags of groceries. Samuel set everything down gently on the floor first. Then she finally looked. He breathed in deeply, the scent of coffee warming up the air around him.
“Want to make lasagna today?” he asked. “With me?”
Adelaide was still half asleep. She blinked slowly and continued to stare blankly at him. “It’s on page 107,” he continued, flipping open the cookbook and holding it open to show her. The book was heavy, and he nearly dropped it when it decided to flop over clumsily in his hands.
A small flicker of recognition was beginning to show on her face. Her hands still wrapped tightly around her coffee mug, and he could see the steam rise gently from inside of it. Samuel decided to smile hopefully. As his smile grew wider and wider, Adelaide, possibly a little more awake than before, seemed to begin smiling, too.