He only ate peanut butter when she was gone, dug it straight out of the jar with a spoon or a knife, once his finger—well, twice. If he had time, and she’d left bread on the counter, he’d spread a thick layer on a single slice, easier to eat on the run.
Peanut butter is a perfect food, his mother had said, or so he claimed. Complete protein, good fat, vitamins ABC.
Doesn’t have vitamins ABC, she would say.
Well, it’s got F, he said, knowing there was no vitamin F, wondering why the vitamin nomenclaturists stopped at E, then leapt to the lone K. Vitamin F always made her smile.
And she told everybody: He only eats peanut butter when I’m gone. Dramatic pause. For the vitamin F.
It was now an article of faith with them. He knew she’d make sure a full jar was on the refrigerator door before she left.
I hate it cold, he said.
Natural organic peanut butter has to be refrigerated, she said. Preserves the F vitamins. Told him he could buy it himself, the smooth, whipped Skippy’s of his childhood, but they both knew he never would.
So, there he was, Friday night, late October, nearly dark outside, standing in the kitchen lit by the refrigerator door, looking for the PB. Not on the door where it should be, not on the top shelf, not in the middle, not anywhere really. He moved the milk, the OJ, not much else to move, the refrigerator was bare. She was gone until Sunday.
He let the door close, stood in the darkened kitchen for a minute, decided he wasn’t that hungry, walked through the dining room to the big window in the living room to catch the last rays of the sun settling over the lake. Almost too late. A single streak of red sun lined the horizon—he bent to see it better—and out of the corner of his eye caught the curve of a jar on the low window sill at the edge of the curtain, where nobody would see it unless he was standing at the window ready for that last moment of wonder, that glimpse of beauty, that marvel that is the sun.
She loved that view, stood there every night—and now he did too because of her. But the jar of peanut butter—how did she know he would see it? Why had she put it there? It didn’t matter. She knew him, loved him, and had left his dinner where he would find it. He picked up the jar and saw she had written over the label with a sharpie: Vitamin F Peanut Butter. Perfect. He could already taste it.
© 2012 Kathleen Coskran