The smell of it would wake him up some mornings. He liked that, waking up to the fresh smell of warm food. It made the air livelier, in a way. Or, well, perhaps it was just a good start to the day this way. It was a small apartment, definitely small for two people. Sometimes it seemed just the right size, cosy for two people in love, but he knew they would need to get a bigger place sometime soon.
As he rubbed his eyes and idly scratched his head, not asleep anymore but not entirely awake either, the draft from the small ventilation slot near the kitchen brought to him the aroma of today’s breakfast. He ‘tasted’ the eggs getting fried on the pan, a few light, selectively chosen spices sprinkled over them. It was good to know what was for breakfast before you actually ate it. It was good to know that there was a cooked breakfast every morning. He thanked his life and his luck for that woman, every morning as he woke up.
Some days it was eggs with fruit and tea, she insisted he have at least one fruit per day, and some days it was a simpler toast with butter or jam arrangement. There was a comforting familiarity to things. It was good to wake up this way.
Thanking his luck again, he stood up from the bed groggily and shuffled to the bathroom. Cleaning his teeth, he heard the boiling of the water, knowing it meant the tea would be ready soon. He walked slowly to the kitchen and sat at the counter. They didn’t exchange many words, he knew. Most couples talked a lot more than they did. But it was alright, he said to himself often, they just didn’t need to constantly reinforce their love with exaggerated shows of romance and false cheeriness. As he poured some juice out for the both of them, he knew it was a comfortable silence they shared.
Neither one felt the need to break it with nervous words or random exclamations. It was rare between people – most never felt it their entire lives – and he was glad they had this. As she brought the omelette to the kitchen counter, he got up swiftly to pull her chair for her and kissed her softly on the cheek. They began to eat.
It was then she told him that she was leaving him. A promotion opportunity had presented itself in the sales department and she would be required to move to another city. It would be better she felt, for the both of them, if they simply parted now on good terms. The distance would only cause drama later and serve to prolong the inevitable.
He listened as she went on explaining things, while at the same time calmly going about her breakfast. The food tasted like nothing all of a sudden to him. She was saying she wouldn’t go to work today. She would spend the day packing. Maybe spend her last couple of weeks with her parents before she finally had to leave the city.
He nodded. It made perfect logical sense. What more could he add? As they finished their food, she picked up both the plates, put them in the basin and went into the bedroom. She would start packing her things now. He stared at the plates. The cleaning lady would come in later in the day to clean them –clean the small pieces of left-over food she had cooked him for the last time, the drops of tea and the few crumbs of bread scattered on them. Those plates would never smell again of the eggs she made him every morning as he woke up.
He got up off his stool and looked around the room, haggard but homely. The carpet was stained still with pasta sauce she had spilled when she had had too much wine one night. They had laughed and kissed late into the night that time in front of the television. The small table in front of the couch was marked with the bases of their coffee mugs – they hadn’t bothered with coasters. The curtains were neatly pulled, letting the day stream in. There was dust hanging in the air, illuminated in the sun’s spotlight. Everything looked so big all of a sudden. It was too much.
The apartment was far too big for just one person living all alone.