Friday, July 1, 2011


“Something bit me in bed last night.” She pushed the toast down again. The bread needed two cycles to toast properly.

He didn’t look up from the paper. “Nothing bit you,” he said, “unless it was that story about bed bugs.”

“I have an inflammation.”

“An inflamed imagination,” he said and held his cup out.

She filled the cup, buttered the toast that was now the soft brown he preferred, and set it in front of him. He refolded the paper to the editorial page, glanced at the toast, and kept reading.

She stood at the toaster waiting for her two slices. Something had bit her. She had three red welts on her lower back, left side and one more at her waist—big bites that itched. The toast came up. She pushed it down, but the toaster protested, growled and resisted. She pulled the half toasted bread out of the toaster, waved it around to cool it, put it back in the toaster, and pushed it down.

“Where are my eggs?”

“Can’t eat eggs,” she said. “Salmonella.”

“Jesus Christ,” he said.

“380 million eggs recalled,” she said. “That’s got to include ours.”

“Cook me a goddamned egg.”

“I read that there are more eggs than people in this country.” Her toast popped up, perfect in every way. She buttered it, spread crunchy peanut butter on both pieces, then slid the jar across to him. “Protein,” she said. “Better than eggs.”

He stared at her, toast cold on his plate, coffee cold in his cup, paper sagged in his lap.

She didn’t care what he thought. It was her job to serve healthy food.

“Nothing bit you.”

She started to raise her nightgown to expose the left side where the welts were, to show him how wrong he was, wrong again, but a moment of grace blew through the window, and she turned, raised the right side of her gown and smiled. “There. See.”

He stared at her flawless back, at the indentation of the waist, the rise of the hip. “Come here,” he said. “Let me look closer.” He put his hand at her waist, moved it up her back, down to her buttocks, pulled her to him.

The toast slid to the floor.

© 2011 Kathleen Coskran