The Most Important Meal of the Day

She lies with me, auburn curls obscuring the gentle wrinkle of her eyelids. Stark white sheets wrinkle under pale curves, stretching and twisting limbs, an arched spine poking out behind freckled skin. She yawns and, as tiny pearls peek around soft lips, I realize that when she yawns, she does with her entire face. Her eyes squint, her nostrils flare, her jaw extends forward. Truly, she happens to be a marvel of human creation. She is a lily, ever blooming and growing with the world around her.

“Hi,” she cooes. Even amidst the damp weight sleep has laid on her mind, her voice continues to flutter through the air. Her eyes open up to a squint, just the bare minimum she needs to identify my figure next to her. Her lips purse shut and she swallows, the muscles in her neck flexing, stretching, showing themselves off to me.

“Good morning,” I reply. “Want me to make you some eggs?”

I’m already headed towards the door and I look back on my way from the room to see her head slowly nod, gently spreading her tawny locks across the pillow that I had slept on.

Down the hallway is our kitchen, small but efficient, and soon the room is filled with the heat and sizzling of the frying pan. Scrambling eggs is too little work for such an important person in my life, but they’re her favorite since childhood, so I oblige. A small spot of coffee (in her favorite mug) to go with a large glass of cranberry juice (because apparently orange isn’t tangy enough), four slices of rye toast (two buttered, two with jam), three slices of bacon (I made four, but ate one) with the fat dabbed off into a paper towel. In doing this, I’ve found my dream job. If I could only pay for the apartment with it.

The plate is a teetering mess on top of the mug as I carry it down the hallway, glass in the other hand. “Here you go, hun,” I say as I cross the threshold.

I notice the hollow way my voice echoes back to me from the far wall and my stomach fills with a dead weight as I realize I’ve walked into an empty room. The glowing pile of smooth curves draped across my mattress has been replaced by a stained sheet. I notice scuffs on the walls that I don’t remember waking up to and clothing scattered about the floor. On her half of the bed, the pillow is untouched and there lies a tiny glossy picture frame and she smiles at me from the beach of a past memory.

I sit on the edge of the bed and eat the breakfast I’ve made, pretending that this has not been my routine for the past few months.

 Brendan Freiler

Originally appeared in the 2013-2014 edition of Outside In