Return To Me

Today, my wife and son eat breakfast at the dining room table rather than pulled up to the kitchen island. We are discussing ducks and what to expect in laying production of the Swedish Black vs the Indian Runners as I prepare the meal.

I put the eggs to the pan.

"So, release the doves." I say to myself.

Today it's scrambled eggs. I cook them hard with the coarse salt. If you were here, you would see the yellows dull and begin to tinge green, as they become clods. I continue to apply heat to the point where they are begin to shed brown edges like a paper wisp.

It is Maillard's reaction in force.

Wrinkling up my nose, I walk to the door and open the glass slider slightly. I find the smell sharp, unpleasant, and something akin to new leather shoes left in the hot sun. All my explaining on how to properly prepare this dish is a direction I have turned away from. Each of them have no desire to follow my path and this has become my duty to fulfill a perverted preference. I finish the task and brush out the burnt crumbs from the pan into the sink.

This is what they prefer. I note their satisfaction in this meal, but there is never exultation. A dressing of red ribbon is passed over, and then forgotten.

Everything is served on mid-tier disposable plates leftover from a long due camping trip. The faces are printed loose brush strokes, identical abstracts bright with a child's color palette. As the dishes peel from their tightly nested rest, and I set them down on the dark tabletop. It is rife with misty water stains. All are ghosts of my family's slaked thirsts, their interrupted satisfactions and the permanence of neglected low level responsibilities.

I have attempted softly rubbing kosher salt onto these marks on order to relieve their presence.

"This may be the wrong approach." I think to myself.

I am reminded of a pause, a respite from our journey from the East Coast to the spoliative South. A moment when my wife and I walked a hotel hallway, searching for the doorway to our room.

I had stopped, poised to ask...again, for the room number. This was a gesture I knew would annoy her, so I stuttered, if only in trepidation. The question was asked not out of a lapse of memory, but a far more complicated wanting; a confirmation of our shared travel. A desire for a head nod or a half smile in acknowledgement that we were far from the distinct clarity of home.

The question was my loss in disguise, a plea to shelter from the ticking of the odometer, my finger counting of the distance traveled from everything I had made familiar.

In the hall the carpets had recorded all paths with dusty soil, my eyes caught the shiny metal frames of paintings hung over side tables. Each placed at a measured distance from each other, from each doorway, and from all viable egresses. Standing under the fluorescent lights, trying to distract myself from this transient experience, she had disappeared.

I touched the corner of my mouth with my tongue and tasted salt.

I waited, keeping time, until I relented, only to find her throwing curses at a vending machine.

I fear this kind of love.

Today, long division of duck egg production, and the smell of ruff toast with butter hang in the air, where the salt of the Alantic does not.