She kept her sugar in a creamer. That was the first thing he noticed. Her sugar bowl had a divot opposite the single handle that he felt sure was meant to be a spout. It was squat and round with a squat round lid, but it was, in fact, a creamer. The milk she poured from a more feminine pitcher, mismatched among the stoneware like a swan in a duck pond.
She made coffee with a quick and practiced efficiency that spoke of ritual.
Beans, spooned by touch into the well of the grinder. Grounds sniffed, her deep-set eyelids falling heavily, lashes fluttering in bliss on her cheeks. Water measured by the timbre of the splash in the coffee pot. She reached for the cups without looking, her gaze on a point in the yard outside. A garden, dew-scattered and glittering in the early sunshine.
Long, ugly burns marred the skin of her left fingers. He thought of the slim gold band he’d brought, wrapped up in his father’s navy pinstriped pocket square.
He looked around her kitchen, unsure where to begin, surprised to see a framed diploma from the culinary academy in the city bearing her name.
“You are a chef?” He hated the stiff, accented formality of his English.
She poured the coffee, keeping the chipped cup for herself. “Was. It was a long time ago. I don’t like to talk about it.”
I gave Eric Storch this prompt: I don’t write anything. I only make drawings.