Ravenous at midnight, I shuffle to the fridge, crack the shell of a hardboiled egg, peel it over the trash. I bite into half, take a crust of bread, leave the rest.
Some evenings, I make eggs for dinner–they’re easy and require little thought. Mornings, I wipe my pan, pour new oil, and turn on the fire until it click-click-clicks.
Stacked against the wall are cookbooks I used when I was with Matt. He made pork chops with glazed string beans, roast chicken with rosemary. On his second visit, he arrived with a bouquet of tulips and a carton of eggs.
A new photo on his Facebook page shows a spry, sparkling blond atop Mount Taurus, where we had once climbed. Did he hold her hips as they kissed, before they picnicked on the cliffs above the Hudson?
I hike with a friend and her husband who love to cook. They try to decide whose soup was better the other weekend–his pumpkin or her squash. The nutmeg in yours was so good, she says. But the cardamom in yours, he says, his hand brushing against hers, added even more warmth.
I get up to crack eggs into a cup. The oil warms in the pan.
On the last hike we’d taken, we walked in silence as our boots crunched over rocks. Matt didn’t know what to say about my mother’s declining health, her cancer that had spread into her bones.
She’d sat hunched in her bedroom as I sliced her a peach.
The eggs bubble and pop as I look for something to add, something more than just salt. I see a wedge of Brie. I toss in pieces and see them shimmer, lift the trembling mass onto a plate.
My mother had once sat perched with spoon to my infant mouth.
I add pomegranate seeds. Truffle oil. Dried dill. Sea salt.
I lifted the peach to her lips.
“Mom,” she called to me, mashing the fruit on her tongue.
I take my plate to the table, raise my fork. The seeds burst in my teeth and are sweet against the Brie’s salt. I break the yolk with my mouth and taste its rich silk.
Elizabeth Koster’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in River Teeth, Hobart, and The New York Times “Modern Love” column. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Columbia University and has taught creative writing in public schools, nonprofits, and a program for incarcerated women on Rikers Island.