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Creative Nonfiction Romance Funny

Your eyes blink open, confused by the sunlight beaming in at an unfamiliar angle. Your brain does that startled moment where you don’t recognize the bedroom you’re in before it all comes rushing back: bar, bourbon on the rocks, truffle mac and cheese, laughing, a hand on your leg, getting the check, kissing on the sidewalk. A deep kiss—one with tongue and hands and arms. Your whole body.

The release of tension. Years of tension. Friends to lovers kind of tension.

The car. Pressed up against it. Pressed up against him.

Hands.

Begging, teasing, feeling. Fingers in your mouth. A suggestion to get into the backseat. An insistence on waiting to find a bed.

Culmination. Release, pleasure, beauty. Being filled. Gasping, moaning, hands in hair, gripping the backs of heads. Tongues tracing sweat lines on skin. Warm breath. Lips pressed against necks. That little gasp of shock, pleasure, surprise when it finally happens, and you remember how good it can feel. You wonder how you could ever have forgotten.

A deep sleep. The best sleep.

Then you wake up. Sore between your legs. But the good kind. The proud kind, like when it hurts to walk two days after a particularly strenuous workout, a reminder that you’re building something. In that case, muscle. In this case, what?

You don’t turn to look at him because his arms are wrapped around you, his naked body pressed against yours. And you wonder: Is this our future? You want it to be.

But does he want it to be? It’s impossible to tell, and it’s much too early to ask. You’re embarrassed that you’re even thinking it after just this first time. You’re a lovestruck, silly little girl.

Oh my god, did you just say “love”? I mean, only in your head, but still. You have to get out of here before you make an idiot of yourself. Or… you pause, getting a crazy idea.

You could convince him.

Convince him what?

Convince him that he wants this too. Prove that you're girlfriend material.

Ever since your college boyfriend broke up with you shortly after the two of you graduated and entered the real, adult world, you’ve gone on countless first dates and navigated disappointing “situationships” with limited satisfaction. You had forgotten what it’s like to have the kinds of feelings for a man that make you want to do the cute things that more successful, adult couples are always posting about on Instagram—taking weekend trips to foreign countries, being dates to each other’s friends’ weddings, adopting a puppy.

You were starting to think a mess like you would never deserve a love that… normal. Uncomplicated. Respectful. Domestic. Domesticated. That’s how you feel. Like you could be domesticated. You’d always thought it was possible if someone ever found themselves up for the challenge. It would just take a person willing to see the wild, emotional wreck that was you and tell her that she was accepted for who she was. That she was safe here.

Your stomach rumbles softly. You squirm, an idea forming. You wonder what he has in his fridge that you can whip up for breakfast. “Whip up”? Listen to yourself. Who do you think you are, Julia Child? The last time you ate breakfast was when you were visiting your parents’ house for Thanksgiving. You don’t cook for yourself unless coffee counts as a recipe.

But you’re sliding out from under his arm, doing your best not to wake him. It works. He makes a grunting sound and snuggles deeper into his pillow. Is that going to be a problem or a selling point? Probably a selling point, you think. Mornings are the time when you have the most energy (clearly), and a partner who sleeps in will allow you hours of uninterrupted quiet time with your coffee to write and do work before they wake up.

In this case, today, you decide to use that time to make breakfast. I guess you feel like you have something to prove. Whether to him or to yourself is unclear. You’re unsure what is motivating you to do something so domestic. Maybe it’s some hunter/gatherer girl brain instinct, residual from thousands of years of evolution in a tribal context. Maybe it’s a lingering code implanted during the two and a half decades of patriarchal brainwashing you’ve been exposed to up until this point.

Either way, you’re a little hungover, and you have nowhere to be, so this is the task that you’ve assigned yourself.

His kitchen is organized. Everything is tucked neatly away in the appropriate drawers. Does he even use any of these appliances? Dishes, pots, pans, this… what is it, a panini press? They’re all almost too clean. The whole room is. For the most part.

You curl your feet in discomfort when they come into contact with stray crumbs on the floor, and you find yourself wishing you had socks to wear.

You make your way over to the fridge and open it to examine it. Not fully stocked, by any means, but certainly more to work with than your fridge back at your apartment. The contents of yours include: one gallon of oat milk, a bottle of champagne, a liter bottle of Frank’s red hot sauce, a bunch of scallions (wilted), and a mysterious takeout container that has no doubt grown moldy because no one has touched it in three months (your roommate’s).

In front of this unfamiliar fridge with various sauces, cheese, and vegetables within your reach, you’re overwhelmed by options. You feel like an artist, blending paint on a palette as you concoct a masterpiece in your mind that your hands will soon realize.

But you’re about to learn the hard way that this emotion does not translate to actual cooking skills.

He has a mostly full carton of eggs and an unopened stick of unsalted butter, so you decide to start with those.

Simple. Easy. Scrambled eggs. Impossible to fuck up. (This is how we know that you are an amateur when it comes to cooking. Anyone who knows anything about making their way around a kitchen will tell you that scrambled eggs are one of the most deceptively tricky, commonly botched breakfast dishes out there.)

Your morning, your relationship, is full of potential. It all starts with eggs. You crack two into the pan. A stereotype of a Morning After activity. The sizzling in a pan that every film noir cuts to as a not-so-subtle symbol for sex. A metaphor for life, for hope, for beginnings.

Maybe you are putting too much pressure on this one meal, you think in a moment of fleeting self-awareness. But then you’re distracted by that smell in the air: is something burning???

Shit, shit, shit! You left the runny, yolky mixture in the pan for too long without stirring. Now smelly smoke is billowing up from the stove top. You frantically turn the fan on and slide the backdoor open in an attempt to prevent the smoke detector from going off and waking him up to your idiocy. You scrape the crispy, inedible mess into the garbage and reach for your phone to Google “how to make scrambled eggs,” only to realize that you left it in his bedroom with your purse and your shoes.

You check the carton. Six left. Just enough for a full meal for two if you don’t fuck it up. This time your plan is to stir continuously. You slice more unsalted butter off the stick using a steak knife and flick it into the pan. You tilt the pan back and forth, round and round until you get everything nice and melted. You crack four eggs directly into the pan and mix them together with a wooden spoon.

The heat is on medium, so you turn it up to medium high to get to that opaque yellow even faster. You wonder if he has bread for toast, so you check the long, tall door to a cupboard that you assume is the pantry. Lots of chips in here, you note, imagining yourself curled up on the couch in front of his TV, crunching contentedly, getting your fingers greasy and salty.

“Meow!” Quick and silent as a predator, his cat leaps in through the open sliding door and up on to the countertop, burying his face into your creation.

“No! Bad kitty!” you frantically whisper-hiss. You’re a dog person and very unaccustomed to dealing with this. When the cat does not so much as acknowledge your distress let alone heed it, you resort to picking him up (he “MEOWS!” angrily), and you gently place him on the floor.

This does not deter him.

He jumps back on the counter immediately. You pick him up again and this time carry him out to the back patio. You set him on the ground and close the sliding glass door in his face. He glares at you and swishes his tail, declaring the two of you mortal enemies henceforth.

You’ll have to deal with this later, but you don’t have time right now. You have to—Dammit!

You run over to the pan only to find the bottom of the eggs are a solid, flaky mess. You try to stir them more to salvage what you can, but it’s no use. Call it, Doctor. Time of death: 9:37am.

Trash, old pan in sink, new pan on stove. Slab of butter, swish it around until it’s melty. Open the carton. Only two left. Hardly a full breakfast, but they’ll have to do.

Crack, plop, sizzle. Crack, plop, sizzle. Delicately fish out a large piece of shell that got in there. Mix, mix, mix, continuously stir, patiently, on medium heat.

After a few agonizing minutes, they’re beautiful. Fluffy, soft, pillowy even. You turn off the heat and find his salt and pepper shakers. You tip the salt over them and eagerly shake it once, twice… The lid falls off the saltshaker. An entire avalanche of grainy white mess spills all over your perfect breakfast.

“FUCK! you whisper-yell to yourself, horrified. You rush the whole pan over to the sink to do triage, trying to scrape off as much as you can, but it’s not enough. For a brief moment, you consider rinsing them off but then shake yourself out of it. That’s too stupid, even for you.

You grab a fork and take a tiny test bite. You almost gag. It’s so bad.

Hot tears well in your eyes. You wasted more than half a dozen eggs and have nothing to show for it. You sink to the kitchen floor in despair, trying to strategize a way to sneak out of here before he sees your shame.

DING DONG.

You have no idea who would be coming by his place on a Saturday morning. More out of curiosity than anything else, you go to check. You look out the peep hole, suddenly self-conscious of the fact that you’re still in last night’s dress.

A young man is already hustling back to his car. You pull the front door open curiously and see a white paper bag on the porch. You pick it up and open it.

Your stomach claws at you with delighted anticipation.

Inside are two giant, foil-wrapped breakfast burritos.

“I figured you must be hungry,” a voice behind you says.

You turn around and see him, bleary-eyed and rubbing his bed head with endearing self-consciousness.

“Starving,” you say gratefully.

He sniffs the air. “Did something burn in the kitchen?”

You look to the ground in shame.

He realizes what you attempted and bursts out laughing. “You are literally the sweetest thing. Come here.”

You’re still embarrassed, but the feeling of his arms wrapped around you makes it feel way less important.

“Let’s get you something more comfortable to wear. I have a ton of extra clean shirts.”

A few minutes later, you sit next to him on the kitchen counter in his t-shirt and basketball shorts. You take a big bite of the breakfast burrito. The eggs in it are cooked perfectly. 

December 14, 2023 01:22

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6 comments

17:07 Dec 16, 2023

Nice Audrey! I love how much tension you managed to generate from the simple act of making breakfast. Eggs no less. Scrambled are the worst!!! Lol Glad the guy seems like a good one!

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Audrey Knox
18:25 Dec 19, 2023

I think so too :)

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03:56 Dec 14, 2023

Nice ending. I had thought it had already gone disastrously wrong when she decided to cook eggs with unsalted butter, but that's just me. Nice story with good tension and twists and turns. The only advice I can think of is you could milk the cat a bit longer. That was a fun twist.

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03:58 Dec 14, 2023

Someone had done an analysis last year and found 1/3 of winning stories have a cat in them! The cats and oranges crowd pleasing theory.

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Audrey Knox
17:26 Dec 15, 2023

haha thank you I was trying to trigger good cooks as much as possible! But I hear you on the cat advice. He's a worthy antagonist.

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Stella Aurelius
17:58 Feb 12, 2024

Love this, Audrey ! Great tension and imagery.

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