This weeks creative writing exercise was more straightforward than the last two. Still, it proved to be challenging in its own way. I loosely based it off a memory from my own childhood.
For the assignment I had to use cookery-menu preparation, the love of this essential process-as a way of understanding a man and a woman's relationship to each other.
Standing on a kitchen chair, Emily surveyed the chaos covering the stove and counter. She couldn’t understand what she was doing wrong. She had helped Mama make French toast enough times that she thought she would have no problem cooking it all by herself this time.
“What do you think you are doing?!” Daddy stood in the door way of the kitchen with that stern frown on his face that always made Emily nervous. She knew he had just woken up because all he wore was a pair of gray shorts and his hair stood up in odd places.
Emily glanced back at her failed plan, seeing what her father saw. Blackened pieces of toast were piled high on a plate and oozed egg that somehow managed to still be raw. Splatters and spills coated the stove. Broken eggshells littered the floor and chair around Emily’s feet. Even though she had turned the stove off and had removed the last slice of toast, smoke continued to rise up from the frying pan in front of her. Emily had no idea that it was the assertive smell of the smoke that had woken Daddy up in a panic and sent him rushing to the kitchen. All she knew was that this mess wasn’t the picture perfect breakfast she had wanted Daddy to wake up to.
“I was trying to make you breakfast,” Emily explained with tears pooling in her eyes and her bottom lip quivering.
Her two step-brothers chose that moment to poke their heads in and check out what all the fuss was about. While Emily had been hard at work in the kitchen, they had been content to lounge on the sofa in the living room. Now that it looked like Emily would be getting in trouble, they wanted a front row seat for the show. The “Ooooo”s and “tsk”s that the boys contributed to the growing suspense proved to be too much for Emily to bear. She closed her eyes as the tears trickled out and hung her head.
Daddy sent the boys out the room and then walked across the kitchen so he could stand next to her. With a knuckle under her chin, he tilted her head up until he was looking into her eyes. Then, he smiled sadly at Emily. “You are using the wrong kind of bread, baby.” He opened up one of the cabinets in front of them and pulled out a loaf of bread that had been cut into much thicker slices. “This is what you need.”
Emily only uttered a soft “oh” but she listened closely as Daddy began to explain the proper way to make French toast. He replaced the smoking pan with a clean cast iron skillet and Emily threw out the burnt toast. It took until Daddy had mixed all the eggs, milk, sugar and cinnamon together for him to coax a smile out of Emily. She giggled as she dipped a slice of bread into the egg mixture and Daddy scooped it out to put it on the skillet.
“What a mess.” The step-mom entered the kitchen and the boys once again watched from the doorway. Despite the early hour, the step-mom’s face was fully made up and she had curled her hair. She looked like perfection as she moved towards them, being careful not to step on any egg shells and frowning at the stains on the stove.
“Emily and I will clean it up when we’re through,” Daddy promised. The step-mom stood on the other side of Daddy so he had to turn his back on Emily to look at her.
“Oh, I’ll take care of it. In fact, I can take over now if you like.” Something in Emily’s stomach twisted as the step-mom smiled up at Daddy.
“No, Emily and I will do it.” Emily released the breath she had been holding. The step-mom frowned but only for a moment.
“Fine. The boys and I will set the table.” The boys groaned and grumbled at this promise.
As Daddy and her continued cooking, Emily felt like she had won some kind of game or fight. Still, she remained on edge as the step-mom and the boys moved around the kitchen.