October 10, 2009
She is sitting at the kitchen table perched on a chair, feet tucked in. The cup of coffee is standing in front of her, ringlets of steam curling upwards in a slow, gyrating stream. The smoke takes me back to a memory of her hand holding a cigarette, smouldering and trailing smoke – it is winter, and we are both shivering as she is speaking excitedly, while we stand outside of the shabby looking doorway leading down into the club. We are surrounded by beautiful people, everybody not giving a fuck together. She talks about her passion for travel, how she walked the Inca trails in Peru last year. She’s drunk, maybe high, but it doesn’t bother me. We have just met.
Now she is sitting at my kitchen table, wearing one of my t-shirts. The wind outside is chasing yellow leaves and the apartment is cold. She smells faintly of sweat, so do I. We haven’t showered and the night was spent fucking, fuelled by Red Bull, coffee, alcohol and sugar. Now she looks pensive and as she stares off into the distance, I notice that yesterday’s make-up has formed small clotted clumps on her eyelashes. She is eating peanut butter straight out of the can, slowly but methodically sticking spoonfuls into her mouth. The peanut butter is the chunky kind, making crunching noises as she chews.
“I’ve loved peanut butter my whole life”, she says dreamily, “our mother used to make us peanut butter and jam sandwiches on weekends, in the mornings. You know, she made us eat oatmeal every day of the week, but on weekends we had hot cocoa and peanut butter and jam sandwiches.” I nod and take a sip of my coffee, its sharp smell fills my mind with the colour black. She scoops up another spoonful, sticks it in her mouth, chews. “We would sit there, me and my sister, and we would eat them as slowly as possible, to drag it out for as long as we could. I used to start with the corners of the bread, because no topping every reaches all the way out to the edges, you know? And then I would nibble my way inwards, like eating a pizza from the outside.” She drifts off, lost in thought, and my thoughts drift off to my own mother, as a different me enters a different kitchen, early morning, hung over from some party the night before, several years ago.
As I walk in, everything is totally quiet, and I see her in her yellow morning robe, sitting at the table. A plate of cinnamon apples is in front of her, a cup of coffee, and her pill box, with one compartment for each day of the week. One of the slots is open, revealing a colourful mix of vitamins, placebos, supplements – her daily portion, awaiting ingestion. The dog is lying in the middle of the kitchen, a big, unwashed sack of quiet reproach for not getting treats. When I come in he gathers himself lazily and approaches to check if anything is coming his way. I extend my hand to pet him, he sighs audibly, and drops back to the floor in disappointment. My mother is reading the morning paper, but as I come in she closes it and pushes it away. I make myself tea and sit down opposite her. We speak, but what I remember is the moment itself rather than what we talk about. The world around us is still.
The girl puts another spoon of peanut butter in her mouth, the crunching audible as she chews. I study her face, sharp, symmetric, certainly pretty. Her blonde hair is tousled and she has tied it into a ponytail. As I examine her she begins to fidget, and my eyes are drawn to her breasts, nipples outlined by the white fabric. I feel the beginnings of excitement, but she interrupts me, exclaiming: “I just remembered that I forgot to call her, I was supposed to meet with her for lunch today!” I’m not sure who she means, and it takes me several seconds to come up with the appropriate social response. “Call who, your mother or your sister?”
“No, Ann. We we’re supposed to meet for lunch at X today. She’s just broken up with David again, you know, he’s such an asshole. I just don’t understand why she continues to go back to him. I mean, I’ve told her again and again that she should just get on with her life and leave him behind, but she always goes on about how great he is, and that he’s had a hard time and I’ve told her a million times that he’s walking all over her but she is so so very sad for him, where is my bag, I need my mobile, have you seen it, I need to call her, I wonder if she went home with him again yesterday.”
I watch her come up for air, like a singer who has just finished a whole refrain without breathing, a sharp intake of breath punctuating the outburst. “I think it’s in the bedroom” I answer, “can you bring mine as well?” She slips down from her chair and walks out of the kitchen. Her bare feet make tiny slapping noises on the tiles. I watch her ass as she walks out of sight.
The can of peanut butter stands empty on the table, she has left the spoon inside it. Coupled with the now very thin trail of steam coming from my coffee cup and the sounds of the city drifting in through the window, this reminds me of some movie scene, a long still shot setting up the mood for… Something.