“We are eating butter pasta,” I announce with a brevity that is beyond me. By “we” I mean me, and this declaration came with no more than giving a sardonic nod to my slanted painting on the kitchen wall for we have eaten butter pasta a dozen times in the span of half a week. “We” used to be the pair the meaning defines it as, you and me, but we are no longer a we; rather, “we” are a be, a be-fore, a before it all happened.
Perhaps you’re curious as to what’s going on in the apartment you left all too long ago. I know I need groceries. I am out of spices and garnishes and milk and eggs and I think peaches, too. I also know that I am good. I was born good, or perhaps made good very early on. I bring my mother coconut milk smoothies every other Sunday and fresh biscuits with thyme on the second weekend of every month.
Furthermore – ooh, I like this word, “furthermore.” It’s smart, like me. Anyway – no, wait, that’s not the word I want to use. Furthermore, I read books. I read books a great deal, in fact, and I’ve harnessed an affinity to quoting them in settings they won’t be recognized. I can’t say it’s feigning intellectualism because I know fairly well that I have quite the intellect; the party I surround myself with usually ends up being a crowd of twenty-something business students, though. I don’t talk to strangers. I mingle with acquaintances, but they’re always friends of friends. I’m a bit erratic in thought, but does my newfound educated vocabulary make up for it? I think I was too dumb for you. Maybe that was it, my brain (or lack thereof), and not my body.
I thought this is what you wanted, no? I am sweet, sweet like coconut milk straight from the can. The canned kind is sweeter, you said. I thought that one good girl was equivalent to a thousand girls. A million plain-Janes. What am I to you, just a female?
The water is boiling now. I check the clock. The train is in forty-two ish minutes. I put in nineteen noodles – I didn’t count until after I put them in, I’m not neurotic like that – and then went to the mud room. I have on the extra thick wool socks you bought me at the flea, the one with greenish-blue specks in them that I said looked like an ugly ocean. I was nineteen then; I guess the noodles knew. Maybe the butter knew. Maybe all I am are carbs and fats and a ghost of your journal’s last chapter. I was nineteen living with an Aristotle of our times, and I could’ve asked any question that the damned genius could’ve definitely answered. I just kept asking him if you loved me.
I matched my sweater to my socks and then I finished the pasta. Ready to consume. Consumption time. I am like a robot that must simplify every thought I have to a command. Where did that even come from? You are probably not going to like this. You also won’t like knowing that my matching sweater-socks fashion is a la you to the tee, as this sweater was made with yarn from your mother’s house.
Back to the pasta, now. Enough about you. The pasta is in a bowl is in my hand. I eat it half with a fork. I don’t eat half of it, no, I eat all of it, I just only half use the fork. Meaning I half ate it with my mouth, drinking from the bowl like a kid with cup noodles. The only difference between the two is the butter to spice ratio, anyway.
I talk a lot about the noodles. I think it’s because you loved fancy pastas more – like al dente sacchetti rather than squishy… whatever I’ve been eating. Maybe that’s not fancy; maybe I am simple. Maybe I talk a lot about the noodles because I am simple. Maybe I am boring. Maybe I’m stupid, too, because I seem to be unsure about a lot of things. Maybe you were right.
I still sit in my kitchen. The kitchen floor, to be exact. We danced here, if you remember it at all. It was a reddish day: hot outside, burning our skin; stolen kisses and sultry glances consuming our idle times roaming from coffee shop to whatever-the-hell-we-found; the red candle we lit on top of the stack of unread but fashionably placed books by the window. That being our sole form of lighting caused a misstep here and there, but largely I blame my lack of dancing.
Have you ever lusted with such unwarranted ferocity that you saw double? Even for a moment? Have you ever experienced such intensity that the hairs on your skin flew to the stratosphere, your mind and feet rising with? It is like hunger. It is like a yearning for starchy carbohydrates in the middle of a barren wasteland.
You do not love like I do. I am a simple woman, we’ve established that much. Yet how is it that a simple woman can encompass the indefinite heat of a thousand fires, and a man, a brilliant man, you, are but a matchstick?
Maybe I discredit myself. I eat repetitively, out of habit. I think erratically, much accredited to you. Us. We are simple. Simply stupid. Your lips were butter but the sweet kind, and my pasta is effervescently savory with a touch of thyme. Or was it rosemary? Oh, well. I like it all the same, just like your kisses. I can stare hopelessly at the stovetop or through the window at the moon, silently pleading for a simple phone call. I can dream of sharing a full-course meal on that damned moon with you, eating as if we are the last humans to grace its grayness.
But I need none of that right now. I need to eat cake, maybe. I need groceries.
 You still have my number blocked.
 Surely you’ll bring up how I once made them with rosemary, but she liked them all the same. You were the one who used up all of the thyme.
 You called me fat in a text to your mother once. Or maybe she called me fat and you agreed. Thanks for that.
 I like being a girl, not a female.
 “Him” being you. I thought you were brilliant, though you’re barely older than me.
 I checked the Trader Joe’s receipt: I have been eating squishy linguine. I don’t know why I remembered sacchetti and not penne.
 We laughed at each others’ sunburns.
 Oh, the places you’ll go searching for public restroom services.
 This barren wasteland is my (our) apartment.
 Are these the thoughts that make me “fat”?
 How is it that I had thyme for my pasta and time to write this, yet you had no thyme for my mother’s biscuits and no time for me?