Tyler insists I write down about the flood as much as I can remember.
I timed this.
The last drops of late afternoon coffee fall into the pot. The last drops of water fall into the shower drain. Even trade.
I have one minute before Tyler wakes up. Then, I’m in his space when I already have the bedroom. Otherwise, I’m on schedule, like teeth in a row, one after another.
I pour my coffee. The smells of spice and dirt rise from the mug. Leave enough that Tyler won’t complain. Not sure he complains.
I had some half-and-half in the fridge the other day. Where?
Tyler doesn’t hear me. Good. I stride past him on the couch. An empty carton sits in the trash. I don’t remember this.
Did I use this up the other day?
Tyler is done snoring. Okay. Time to make myself scarce.
I get to the doorframe, then past the door. Still asleep.
My knee on dresser corner, expletive. Carpet muffles, soaks, absorbs the splash. I bet Tyler’s awake now. Must. Stay on the couch. A stain — expletive.
Me, with an emptied box worth of tissues laid out far past the stain. Silver carpet turns charcoal. Me, crouched. A second box ready. A glare up to
Tyler, bedhead at the doorway. Stay there. Don’t come in. Don’t see this.
Tyler yawns, a long glance back to his room. Oversaturated in seconds. No help. To me, with a push. Deepen the stain. Planting the dirt. Cover my hands. Expletive. Tyler glances back at me. Mug full of dirt. No. This is my room. He sees the spill. I won’t make a mess. I won’t make this a mess. I won’t make a mess again.
Tyler, with a splash of detergent. Cold, acidic. Vinegar and scrubbing water. Ripping perforation to me, with two sheets of paper towel.
No more stain in the carpet. One stain of blush.
And then he goes back to the couch, like nothing. I did nothing.
I make chicken noodle soup for dinner. Soup is not my favorite holdover from the dorms, but we still can’t budget lunches. Tyler hasn’t eaten anything since breakfast yesterday. And I spilled coffee all over his room.
I got some spaetzle from the grocery store. The grocery store is so close to us, maybe two blocks away. I walk there. Now that the fall is here, I wear my gray windbreaker, a few years old and scuffed. The inside is white and kind of gritty. Smells like home. When I have that windbreaker on, though, I don’t feel like anything can bother me.
Spaetzle is great for stroganoff, too. Maybe I should make stroganoff later this week. I’ll see if we have any leftovers from tonight.
We have some chicken broth in the fridge, some canned tuna.
Carrots — $0.99/lb.
Celery — $1.50/lb.
Yellow onions — $0.79/lb.
Green beans — $1.80/lb.
Frozen corn — $2.75 $1/12 oz bag
Chicken I can afford — out of stock
Tuna noodle soup.
I put the broth in a big pot and start getting that warm. I get some salty water up to a boil in a smaller pot and add the noodles. The water has stopped boiling because I put the noodles in, so I get it back up to a boil. I wait a few minutes until the noodles are still a little undercooked.
This is a big pot. Good. Plenty of leftovers.
Celery, carrots, and onions are next. I curl my fingers to keep them safe. The chopping is quick, then into the pot and stir. Onions. Tyler will like this soup.
In the meantime, I chop up some packets of tuna from the pantry. They’re fragrant. The broth shakes. Calm down.
In. The noodles go in the broth to finish cooking. Out. The tuna, too.
In. Salt. Pepper. Out. Garlic powder.
I’ve made this recipe before. Eighteen minutes is the perfect amount of time for the soup to simmer. Too soon, everything is brittle and crunchy. Too late, the pot overflows. Wait.
Right at that first beep of the timer, the pot comes off the stove lid.
I ladle some soup into a bowl. And another bowl for me. He likes tuna, doesn’t he?
Tyler walks into the kitchen. An electric bedhead, torn t-shirt, and boxers. I bet he’s hungry.
I give him his bowl and smile with my teeth. He frowns. I raise my eyebrows. He furrows. I offer again. He sneers at me.
I pack the soup into the fridge. Never mind. Lock the bedroom door.
I hear him leave an hour later. I’m okay enough that I can pull the windbreaker off after that.
No one’s there. I remember. The flood.