“What are you doing?”

He lifted the long-handled wooden spoon from the pan and set it in the spoon rest by the stove. “Cooking,” he said plainly.

“I . . .” she looked around the apartment as if expecting to see someone or something other than a normal, slightly untidy apartment. “I can see that.”

“Mhm,” he said, wafting the steam toward his nose, breathing in the aroma. “I’m glad you’re home.”

She finally crossed the room and set the paper bags on the table.  Stepping fully into the kitchen she discovered an array of dishes and foods. “You cooked all this?” He nodded, pinching some spices into the pan. She watched him stirring vigorously. “I brought takeout. I thought you’d be . . .”

His stirring slowed. “Because I was fired?”

“Well, yeah.” He shrugged. “That job was . . .” she trailed off.

He nodded, but didn’t say anything else.

“Are you okay?”

He sighed, looked around the kitchen, looked out the window, looked at his partner. “My fingers smell like garlic. This afternoon, I got to watch the clouds part after a thunderstorm. I’m pretty sure I burned the bread. I can hear swing music from our neighbor’s apartment. I’m here with you. I’m . . . I’m alive.”

Photo by Harry Grout on Unsplash

Story by Gregory M. Fox