Travis had planned this moment out for a week. He bought all the ingredients early in the morning before the sun had risen so the food would be at its freshest. When he returned from the store he had entered through the basement so he wouldn’t wake Amanda. A surprise breakfast for the love of his life. This would score him some serious brownie points. But that’s not the reason for the breakfast. Just an added bonus.
As quietly as he could, he pulled a skillet from the cupboard and placed it on the stove. Then he turned on the burner to medium, greased the pan with an expensive Irish butter, then got to work while it heated up. The next part took precision.
Slowly, with the nimble fingers of an expert chef, he sliced up a sweet red pepper into thin slivers. Next came the portabella mushrooms which he chopped into neat little cubes. He followed this with a slightly sweet onion that he sliced even thinner than the pepper. Then he dumped all the ingredients into a liquid measuring cup. With this done, he, as quietly as possible, cracked three brown free-roam chicken eggs into the cup and mixed everything together. No cheese. Cheese didn’t agree with Amanda’s sensitive stomach. He learned this the hard way when he once sent her a cheese basket at work—anonymously as a surprise—and found out through a mutual friend that she gave it to her coworkers. Travis was hurt, but he understood.
Normally he would beat the eggs separately then add the ingredients last, but there wasn’t much time before Amanda would wake up. He had to hurry or she would catch him and the surprise would be ruined. He couldn’t allow that to happen.
He poured the omelet mixture into the now perfectly hot pan and went to work on the toast. His heart stopped for a moment at the sound of the eggs sizzling, but when he didn’t hear Amanda stir from the bedroom he continued with the meal. The toast had to be done just right. Not too cooked and not too floppy. He knew how she liked it made because once, out of complete happenstance, she had breakfast at a popular local diner that he was also eating at. She looked to be catching up with an old friend so he decided not to bother her that day. Though, he couldn’t help but watch her as she ate her meal and commented on how she loved the toast there. An offhand comment but one that stuck in Travis’ mind for some reason. The toast had to be perfect. She deserved that much.
He flipped the omelet with an expert hand. He wasn’t a good cook per se, but he had been practicing making omelets with toast every morning for the last month just for this occasion. The funny part, he never liked eggs much. But Amanda does, and that’s all that matters.
He flipped the omelet again and turned the burner off. Then panic struck. The toast! Had it been in the toaster too long? His hand shot over and hit the popper. The toast flew out and he caught both pieces of bread like a Shaolin Monk catching grains of tossed rice. He let out a quiet sigh of relief. The bread was toasted to perfection.
He plated the omelet and toast, spreading the butter with the exact ratio needed to make the toast moist without getting soggy. Looking at his work with pride, he added a fork and knife to the plate and picked it up like a loving father picking up his newborn baby for the first time.
“Shit,” he whispered as the weight of 1000 stars suddenly fell upon his chest. He forgot to make her coffee.
He set the plate back down on the stove and rushed over to the coffee machine. It was an old drip-style coffee maker. Why the fuck did it have to be an old drip-style coffee maker? He would buy her a new one when—
No time to worry about that now, he thought. He had maybe five minutes before her alarm would go off. How long would it take for the coffee to brew? How long would the food stay warm?
He no longer had the luxury of being quiet. Rummaging through the cupboards like a wild bear ravaging trash cans in search of food, his anxiety spiked at the realization that she was out of coffee.
“Oh, fuck me,” he said into his hands. Why hadn’t he remembered to buy coffee?
Amanda—like most office workers—started each morning with a fresh cup of Joe. And also like most office workers, she had a specific ritual in how she got her fix. He didn’t know about her home coffee ritual, if she had one, but he did know what she did before work. She always went to Starbucks and ordered a tall—
A piercing scream shattered the thought. Shattered it like the plate of the perfectly crafted breakfast Travis knocked to the floor from the shock of hearing the scream so unexpectedly.
“Who the hell are you!?” Amanda was standing there in her Minion pajamas. A look of terror was stretched across her face. “Get the fuck out of my house. I got a gun!” she screamed.
“No, you, you, you don’t understand. I…I…I just—”
“My husband will kill you. Ben!” she interrupted, screaming to the bedroom.
There was no Ben. Travis had been stalking her long enough to know she lived alone. But he was too stunned to say anything. As he stood there lamenting the way things turned out, she ran into her bedroom and locked the door. Only a few seconds went by before he heard her talking to the 911 operator.
Why did it always end up like this? Why do these women always play so hard to get? These questions went through Travis’ mind every time he failed to secure his “prize.”
“We would’ve made such a good couple, too,” he said to himself as he picked up the chef knife. “They better not take me back to the nuthouse this time,” he added in jest.
He began to walk toward the bedroom door but paused and stood over the defiled omelet on the floor. What a waste, he thought. Then again, he didn’t like eggs anyway. Maybe they wouldn’t have been such a good couple after all. Oh well. Too late now.
He began walking again.
Cover Art: Breakfast Painting By Anita Zotkina