Just as summer ends, Astrid moves in with me. That apartment is carved out of a hulking, gabled house in the Central District. We don’t have enough money, but eating is necessary and necessary doesn’t have to mean no fun. So we travel the world.
At the library we check out glossy-paged cookbooks that promise the flavors of Mumbai, Buenos Aires, and Zanzibar. On weekends, we scour the food shops in the International District and along Aurora hunting for the best deals on vanilla pods, Allepo pepper flakes, pomegranate molasses.
Astrid tells me she loves me.
Our kitchen is Zagreb. Our kitchen is New Orleans. Our kitchen is Istanbul and we sit at the rough-stained wood table eating brazed eggplants and drinking raki. Smears of turmeric, puddles of congealed sauces, cubes of onion, and slivers of vegetable skins lay strewn about the countertops.
We cook and eat and laugh and fuck. When she comes she puts her hand over my face and I smell coriander and ginger in her sweaty palm. Our apartment is bright and warm, a quivering bubble shielding us from the northern latitude nights that creep in hours before dinner and drag on long past breakfast the next day.
Astrid tells me she misses the sun.
Our kitchen is Budapest. Our kitchen is Mexico City and I lick splatters of achiote paste from Astrid’s downy cheek and we drink mezcal with sliced oranges. She hands me hot, steaming dishes and I dry them with towels made from old flour sacks.
We cook and eat and fuck. If she comes, she closes her eyes and warns me her mouth tastes like onions. Our apartment is small and hot and we’re glad when summer comes and we can open the windows to let fresh air in.
Astrid tells me she is tired.
Our kitchen is Italy. Empty jars of ready-made pasta sauce and the boxes from frozen pizzas pile up next to the garbage bin that is already full of the vegetables and fruits we let go bad. I drink beer from a can and Astrid from a bottle.
We cook and eat. Astrid sleeps late and I watch TV. Our apartment is large and drafty and again it is winter and no matter how many blankets are on the bed, no one gets a good night’s sleep.
Astrid tells me she is leaving.
Just as summer begins, Astrid moves out. My world has become aisle seven of a discount grocery store. I move from one freezer to the next and reach for a box of frozen lasagna and a bag of Swedish meatballs.
About the Author: Andrea Eberly’s stories have appeared in Hobart, Carve, Green Mountains Review, Southwest Review and elsewhere. She is a member of the Quills writing group. She works as a clinical pharmacist in emergency medicine.
Story Song: "Aurora/99" by Mega Bog