Kitchen Love

by Gay Degani

Dark wood cabinets, harvest gold fridge, a plethora of stained glass. This morning, the radio plays Ronstadt, Creedence, Blood, Sweat, and Tears. When we moved here, we hung a pothos plant in the breakfast nook. Now its long green cords drape fat cordiform leaves along the curtain rod. We smoke a joint while you flip pancakes and I wash dishes, shaking off last night’s yelling match.

I steal glances over my shoulder. I see you at the stove, shirtless in board shorts, your surf-hard muscles, your knobby knees, but you don’t see me. Your hair is longer than mine, your face hidden, intent on your usual Saturday morning cheffing.

My mother’s kitchen never saw a man at the sink washing, at the stove flipping, only finding him there to grab some snack, to fill a glass with water, to accuse her of some major slight, some minor sin. We are different, aren’t we? From them. Our parents? Or at least, that’s what I thought. Why is this doubt pulling at me? This fear that you will leave. But I do know. My father says you and me, we live in sin. There’s nothing to bind us, to keep us together when things go to shit.

My father kept me up all night, the night I told him we’d moved in together. I sat rigid on the sofa while he paced up-and-down his living room, long after he sent my mother to bed. I had never defied him before but then just after dawn, I told him he was wrong. His face reddened. My heart stopped. I swallowed but met his eye. He snarled the words, “He will break your heart” as he stomped off to bed.

Now I turn as you turn from the stove with pancakes heaped on a plate, their soft, sweet aroma teasing my nose. You grin, roll your eyes. I beam back. Yes, you might leave. But then again, you might not.