I opened the apartment door with my pinky. Maybe carrying all the grocery bags inside in one go was stupid, but I always did it. My purse fell from my shoulder onto my forearm and I let everything hit the floor. The jar of artichoke hearts rolled out of one of the bags across the entry hall.
I liked the smell. There was something peaceful about it. Maybe because I knew it was his. I closed the door and looked for the kitchen. The apartment was silent. Immaculately clean. It would be an easy job.
An easy job? Fuck. I’d never have any idea if I was even doing this well. I had no way of knowing if I was doing the right thing. I just did what I knew to do.
I fumbled through the drawers and cabinets, turned on the oven, found a baking dish. Cutting board. Thank God he had a real cutting board and not some stupid slip of plastic. Bamboo. And a good knife. I liked him more and more. Good taste in cooking utensils.
The spinach was half in the skillet when the door opened. I wished he wouldn’t be so cool. He didn’t have to keep up a facade with me. But then, who was I to criticize him at a time like this? What control did he have over his filters?
“Welcome home, dear.” I leaned around the doorway, spatula in hand.
He smiled and put out his arms. His hugs were guarded now. But he didn’t let go quickly.
“Hey,” he said into my shoulder.
“Hey,” I smiled at him as we pulled back. “Dinner’s just a few minutes away.”
“Smells nice. You didn’t have to, you know?”
“Didn’t have to keep you from eating alone and sitting in your room drowning in solitude and depression? Yeah. I could have gone and done something awesome with my time like feeding the homeless.”
He made an expression of, “Well, okay, sorry I asked.” But I knew it warmed him even if he didn’t show it.
“So, Peaky Blinders?” I leaned down and pulled the chicken from the oven, setting it carefully on the stove.
I felt like I came off as so over-the-top to him. But I was always holding back. Did he have any idea that this wasn’t even 10% for me? Or was it? I was going full-throttle at this, wasn’t I? I just wasn’t being honest about it with him. With myself either. But I felt like I was holding back. It was the honesty. He was fragile before. Now he was like a butterfly’s wings.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
Love suffers long and is still kind.
I had no idea if I was really helping at all. But I’d never abandon him even if he never showed what it meant. I was going to give all I had to see him heal.