Perseverance Apartment Spaghetti

A speed-write written in twenty minutes. Nouns generated via this site: [link]

Note: the characters from Truth Water Man make a comeback

You want to make something nice. Something home cooked and tasting real good.

You remember growing up with your momma’s spaghetti and her homemade sauce and her long spaghetti noodles she broke in half by the fistful over the boiling water.

You want to make something like that, with the crushed oregano dusting your fingertips and the pepper making you sneeze as you grind it with a crick and a crack and a twist of your wrist.

You’re gonna use real onions that make your eyes water so bad. You’re gonna peel real garlic with your hands until you’re smelling it for weeks after you’ve finished and you’re gonna triple the number of cloves because she loves her garlic.

You want to make her mouth water.

It sounds easy on paper, but the sauce boils too soon and you accidentally rub your eye when you’ve got garlic juice all over your hands and you can’t stop crying because of the goddamn onions, and the spaghetti noodles are too soft and they slip slop all over the colander and you know this is a disaster when the garlic bread starts to burn in the oven and the smoke alarm goes off and everything is loud everything is just too loud and too much and what the fuck is that smell.

Once you’ve ripped out the batteries because you can’t figure out how to turn off the alarm and you’ve collapsed against the counter, surrounded by your scorched bottomed pans and that burning smell, you know what you need to do but your soul withers like your grandmother’s grapes, the ones she hung in the kitchen window to greet the rising sun for the last twenty-five years until they weren’t grapes anymore, and they weren’t raisins neither because they’d transformed into something beyond that, just like you are completely beyond this mess and you just want it to be over.

But you can’t because she’s gonna be home in one and a half hours, maybe two hours if you’re lucky and her perpetual lateness proves true. You put on your cap and you put on your shoes and you go to the market, the one that’s run by the hedge witch coven.

They’re always only fifty-fifty, your mother had warned you but you’re not going for something magical just something practical. You go to the witch who pulls flares from sunbeams slanting through the trees to thread the spells that make her tomatoes oh so plump and oh so red, tomatoes that bleed in your mouth and rolled your eyes up because goddamn it’s good, so good—but not as good as the ones your mother tended without magic, the ones she sliced into thin circles and put on toast with a dash of salt.

You go right up to the witch’s little stall lined with her little jars full of canned fruits and vegetables. You are so hungry. You want something to sink your teeth into but you shake yourself and think of your girlfriend about to be home. “I need your help,” you say.

The witch cackles. She can’t believe this. She’s going to hold it over your head. You’re gonna owe her a favor, some day. Knowing her, she’ll make it two favors.

You snarl and she laughs in your face. “Fine, then don’t help!” You turn to go because you can go somewhere else and even if it won’t be as good it’ll still be nice and you’ll just burn a candle or two and put on her favorite love songs and she won’t even care because she loves you so.

But she tugs your hand and you let her. She apologizes and you accept it with a grudge. “I need a jar of your tomato sauce. The ones spun from the sun.”

“The one you said wasn’t as good as your mother’s?” Oh she’s barely holding it back.

You can’t bring yourself to say it’s so, so you just nod sullen and stoic.

She pats your cheek as she hands it to you and you hate that. “I wish you could see your face right now” and she’s laughing again as you speed off towards your studio, jar of sauce tucked under your arm so that you can make dinner before it’s too late.

You remake the noodles and you keep a close watch on them so you can take them off the burner when they’re just right, just the way she likes it al dente. You heat up the sauce and you stir it while you read a book. The garlic bread’s a lost cause and you’ll just have to do without it. You wish you had wine instead of just another pot of coffee.

You set the table and burn the candles and put on the music and everything is ready and waiting for her when she comes home. She smiles and laughs and claps her hands and plants a quick kiss on your cheek before she sits down, spooning noodles onto her plate with her fork and putting too much sauce on them.

You watch her with your chin propped on your fist and your eyes big because you love seeing her like this.

But she stops after the first bite. “This doesn’t taste like your sauce.”

You can already feel the flush rising on your cheeks.

She laughs, delightedly. “Oh my god. You went to the hedge witches.” She rises from her chair and slings her arm around your shoulder. “I didn’t know you loved me that much.”

Even though she knows, she’s always known, but you don’t protest because she’s kissing you on the mouth this time and you can’t think of anyplace you’d rather be than in your little apartment while she has a little fun at your expense.

You kiss her back, and you don’t care that you can taste the spaghetti sauce on her tongue.

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