This is an apology. I’ve been throwing my hair over my shoulders for too long. Sometimes, I remember how to be still. I’ve tried, but I don’t know how to talk about her. Last summer, my nails were short and I spoke to people about who she was. The backyard of my parent’s home and me reading her texts when she left her phone unlocked. Once I made her breakfast: two eggs, one toast, and some cherry tomatoes. She wasn’t hungry, and I didn’t know why.
But it was more than just an egg, wasn’t it? More than a ribbon of whitish fluid swirling in the watery vortex and settling around a yellow yolk. It was my first in twenty fours years, because poached eggs were vetoed. Not for me and my clumsy fingers – too delicate, too skillful.
I watched it lull as the water stilled and scooped it out with a giant spoon, adding a crack of pepper and a sprinkle of salt. My knife plunged into its centre – CLINK – spilling bright, hot yolk over the toast. Not for me, says who?
There was so much blood, not really but too much for me, too much for me, alive, to see; the impact sizzled broken skin and made me cough, trying to call from inside myself something less than this, a memory of a wall, maybe, or the crinkled edge of a communion cracker. I’d never had one, hadn’t been to church in decades, but my girlfriend loved them, loved the blandness in her mouth. I did everything I could to not be bland. Called neon what she called burnt orange. Or reverse. I worried I was too much for her.
She’ll need long sleeves instead of short sleeves for the next few days. She’ll blame it on the fact that she gets cold easily. That worked last time.
Extra concealer as well. This time, it’ll be to conceal an unexpected breakout.
She gives herself a once-over with the mirror by the front door before leaving.
“Good morning,” she cheerfully greets her co-worker as the older woman puts the car in drive without responding.
“What did you do wrong this time,” the older woman asks at the last red light before they make it to work.
“He doesn’t like runny eggs.”
here I lay / the shell remains / that used to hold us / we were once / more than this empty / this endless / we were full and loved and whole. I feel everything / my bones, flesh / the orchid underneath the bed / it grows / reminds me / the shell of what we were / fertilized the soil / that nourishes / brings me / where I need to be.
I make scrambled eggs to feel in control. It’s those little things, you know? If I’m eating a bowl of eggs maybe my life isn’t falling apart. I’ve got my shit together, maybe. Maybe if I eat my protein, drink later, lie in the grass, I can be resurrected. Working a stove isn’t witchcraft but it sure could be. I’ll set myself on fire making those eggs, as long as I’m swallowing yellow at the end of the day. I’m good. I’ll be good. I’ll make myself breakfast, I’ll make myself lunch. Maybe I’ll skip dinner but I’m good. Maybe I’m an addict, maybe I crave normalcy. Order. I’m addicted to feeling less out of control, feeling alive.
Sometimes they come spilling out, capturing pieces of their shell in their wake, as they pour onto the paper–the stove top, I mean. The yolk, something not yet realized, but golden, gooey, delicate. The little darling must be cradled until you find the right medium–toast; poetry; the personal essay. Let it soak into every pore.
Sit back and take a sip of your coffee, knowing that you’ve been nourished.
I should have known we were over at our first breakfast together. He cooks eggs so fast and hot that they run, spreading out like a dying sun to be scooped up with toast, with great care. I just crack them in a little black bowl and nuke them until they explode. That’s the only way I know something is done. I wait forever for it to blow up in my face and I still carve it out and try to save it. Microwaves and love leave me with the same buzz, stuck, sad vibrations in my chest.
4:40am: He finally shuts up and hears my stomach. Please, go make some eggs. You have to eat. You need to take better care of yourself.
And then, because my ears are new to hearing nurturing sounds from boys, I grow a little weak and find myself wanting to forgive him as I fry two eggs in his darkened kitchen. I consult with the spatula about his fate. It’s helping me with my breakfast at dawn so it might as well assist in my decision-making too.
Alas, the spatula really is just an inanimate object. I must deal with sir on my own. I slip back into bed and he pulls my arm around his waist so I can be the big spoon. He sometimes does this in his sleep. I gently roll over and line our backs up since this position makes more sense for how we’ll be feeling when we wake up: unable to face each other.