The key jammed in the frozen lock. Again. A daily struggle in mittens, with the outside light, still unfixed. Molly almost dropped her bags in the tussle. No, I can’t ruin the cake!
At last safe inside, she removed her snowy shoes and turned on the lights and heat. The boiler fired to life. Another life in her home, drowning out the talk-radio channel left on ‘for company’ in the living room. The habit alone was a comfort, but it couldn’t change the reality of an empty house.
She threw her work clothes in the laundry, preferring her brushed-cotton pjs with the dog-print on. Pockets in the trousers for tissues. She might as well be cosy for the evening. Now, for dinner.
No point spending time in the kitchen cooking a meal for one. That was her favourite, her familiar excuse to eat ready-meals and rubbish. She warmed up a tin of lentil soup and sat on the sofa binge-watching Poirot reruns on TV. Afterwards, her Friday treat. Molly smiled in anticipation.
Time for cake!
Today, she’d chosen a fresh-cream sponge. She cut a solitary sliver with the solemnity of a priest, the slow glide of the knife tender, affectionate. Her eye glistened with appreciation in the tv-glare. When she looked at the slice, she remembered beauty. She remembered the tint of rainbows amid a wash of slush-coloured greys. That strange, long-ago feeling of joy. Granules of sugar sparkled with promise, the reciprocating glint in a lover’s eye. Once upon a time…
In her mouth, the cake whispered sweet, enticing words, spoke of friendship, even of love. Oh, she could listen to this sweet-talk all night long. She was hungry, so hungry for it. Cocooned in this embrace, Molly found perfect sanctuary, a momentary answer to unanswered prayers. The respite ended far too soon, and only paltry crumbs remained. Like torturing reminders of what she had left. Morsels of memory, that’s all, turning from succulent to stale.
Another slice wouldn’t hurt. One more slice to ease the pain, to taste forgotten pleasure. Tomorrow she could deal with regret. With the weight of the bathroom scales, the weight of him, no longer beside her. The empty space to fill with something. Anything. Tomorrow she would face it. Or someday. He’s never coming back.
For tonight, however, she was not alone. There was cake, her cake, in the kitchen.