I’m making a breakfast shake to get some calories before a morning run. Two bananas, some plain yoghurt, honey, and OJ.
Two Ziploc baggies sit on the kitchen counter. One is marked FLAX, the other SOY. The baggies are almost empty. I add a dash of each to the blender.
A few months ago I was standing in her kitchen, making the same shake. Before I closed the blender lid, she asked,
“Why don’t you add some of this?”
“Because I’m not a crunchy organic granola kind of guy. Keep that shit out of my shake.”
“Have you ever had any in your shake?”
“Of course not.”
“So you don’t know how it will taste.”
With that, she slid herself in between me and the blender. I smelled her hair, still warm from the bed. She rubbed her ass against my running shorts. This is so unfair.
She added the white powder to the mix, not so much that I would scream in protest. She knew my limits. Then the tiny seeds – just a few. She turned on the blender before I was able to register a complaint. You had to admire the woman’s deftness.
When it stopped she poured a glass and handed it to me with a smile. I was never able to resist that big smile, which she used when she was able to get me to eat something healthy and enjoy it.
I drank my adulterated shake, corrupted with unwanted goodness. She enjoyed watching me drink it.
“How does it taste?”
“Like my regular shake.”
“That’s right. You can’t taste the soy, and the flax gives it a bit of texture, like strawberry seeds would if you’d added strawberries to your shake.”
I had another sip. She was right.
“Soy gives your body protein. You don’t eat much meat anymore, so this gives you your daily protein requirement.”
Sometimes she talks like a health store owner, a True Believer in good nutrition. I would normally resist such a sermon, except this lecture was accompanied by high cheekbones, green eyes, full lips and willing hips.
She put one hand around my waist. The other hand was placed flat over my heart.
“Soy is good for your heart and your health. Flax keeps you regular. Men your age get colorectal cancer, and roughage like flax seeds reduces the risk of that.”
She licked the shake moustache off my upper lip. My toes curled.
"There." She patted my chest. "Now you'll remember to do that every time you make your banana shake. You have to live a long time, baby. We’re growing old together.”
Back in my kitchen, the morning is full of quiet.
Her phantom hand is still on my chest, warm and loving. I can still smell her hair. It wasn’t that long ago.
I zip up the plastic baggies. They’re almost empty. Those were her baggies. This is her print. FLAX. SOY.
When they run out, do I throw the baggies away? They were gifts from her. Their presence keeps the demons of loneliness and regret away. If they're here, she's still in my life. It's a comforting myth. Sometimes these lies are all we have to hold onto.
I place the baggies back into the cupboard where they’ll be safe. I shut the door. So long as they aren’t empty, I’ll be okay.
The blender whirs. I pour a glass and drink it. I think of her. Yes, Ann, I did remember.
I lace up my shoes and go for a morning run.