• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 08
Image by

The Recipe

‘You know what I really miss?’ you told me the night before. I’d bought you white wine. Grape, not grain: doctor’s orders.
‘What’s that?’ I said.
You smiled and said, ‘Pop Tarts.’
I looked at you, raised an eyebrow. ‘You’re kidding,’ I said. Last time I had one of those, I seared the roof of my mouth. Hopped around my mum’s kitchen like a kangaroo on speed. Can’t see the appeal, if I’m honest.
‘Well,’ you said, ‘it’s just that for everything else - bread, cakes, pasta - there are alternatives. Rice flour instead of wheat, you know? But Pop Tarts are literally the only thing you can’t switch.’ You shrugged, sipped your wine again. ‘My one guilty pleasure. Forever denied. Ah, well.’
‘Ah, well,’ I said, a plan forming in my mind.

I awoke at seven the next morning, left you sleeping as I quietly got out of bed, slipped on a dressing gown, and headed downstairs to your kitchen. Pastries. That’s all they are, essentially. How hard can they be? Of course, I had to tweak the recipe a bit, but since your diagnosis, I knew you’d be well equipped.
Rice flour. Check.
Xanthan gum. Check.
Butter, jam, sugar. Check.
Rolling pin. Check.
And a toaster. Get in.

Half an hour later, you came downstairs and stood bleary-eyed in the kitchen doorway. Through the black smoke, you spotted me, flailing madly at the hastily-opened windows.
I spun around, a wild-haired domestic god gone feral.
‘Smoke alarm woke me,’ you said.
‘Sorry,’ I said.


The Recipe

‘My toaster’s a bit erratic.’
‘You’re not wrong.’
You squinted. ‘You’ve ruined my kitchen.’
‘I’ve ruined your kitchen,’ I agreed.
You edged forward through the eddying smoke, glanced at the blitzed work surfaces and powdered floor tiles. ‘You’re making me breakfast,’ you said.
I nodded. ‘It’s on the ceiling.’
We looked up. My first attempt at a homemade gluten-free Pop Tart. A work of art, it was; Piet Mondrian would have been proud. Raspberry jam, sparkling white icing, lemon curd, in geometrically perfect lines. Now a charred oblong, wedged in the plasterwork. Propelled upwards with the speed and flammability of a passing comet.
‘It’s probably the best place for it,’ I said.
We looked down again. I frowned. Or I would have done if I’d still had my eyebrows. ‘Sorry,’ I said again.
‘That,’ you said, wrapping your arms around me, ‘is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.’

Twenty years later, I still make you breakfast, although these days it’s strictly grapefruit, quinoa crispbread, and cottage cheese. Every morning, as I exit with your tray, I make a point of glancing upwards.
We left it as a reminder. To this day it nestles there, immutable and immobile, made to last.