writing exercise #38: the taste of orange

The sink exploded. A geyser erupted from the hole left from the disengaged faucet and handle now lying impotent in the basin. Water rushed across the counter, puddled on the floor. Fuck, Matt thought. Fuck, fuck, fuck. He threw a dish towel over the spray, pulled open the cabinet doors, shoved the trash can, the dishwashing detergent, the four thousand smashed up plastic bags aside and twisted the knob until the water slowed to a trickle, stopped.

Lanie had asked him, told him, to fix the faucet. He’d said he would. He’d said, of course. He said, I’ll get to it. He’d said, no, you don’t need to hire someone. He said, I’ll take care of it. He’d said, maybe if you would stop nagging me for one goddamn minute I’d remember to do it.

I’m sorry I said that, he’d said.

And now. Here he was. What a mess. He stood, backed up to survey. Water, water, everywhere. Matt pulled more dish towels out of the drawer, mopped up the counter. He lifted the faucet up to the light. Stripped and cracked. OK, so he could just run to the hardward store, get a new one. Lanie wouldn’t be home till after six. He still had time. Car keys in hand, door pulled tight behind him, Matt left.

An hour later, he returned, replacement faucet in a paper bag handed to him by a clerk whose skepticism rode so close to the surface that Matt had to fight to keep from assuring him he knew what he was doing. Not that he knew what he was doing. But how hard could it be? He twisted the new faucet into the place of the old, ducked back under the sink, held his breath as he released the water. Above the counter, the water poured out orderly, as water should.

“Yeah!” Matt yelled, fist-pumping his way through the kitchen. “Yeah!” Hey, he thought, if he cleaned up quickly enough, Lanie would never know about the semi-disaster that had prompted the at-last sink repair. Water mopped up, dishtowels in the laundry, he should make dinner, he thought. A complete diversion.

Onions, garlic, pinto beans, corn into the skillet. Blood red tomatoes, brilliant orange serranos  into the blender. Salt. Grated jack. Chopped cilantro. Corn tortillas or flour? He could never remember which kick Lanie was on.

Six fifteen. Burritos assembled – he’d gone with the flour tortillas – presented with a spicy orange smear across the top and a sprig of cilantro tucked underneath. Lanie adored cilantro, couldn’t believe some people didn’t like it. It’s a genetic thing, Matt had said one time. That’s stupid, she’d said.

The door opened. Hey, she announced, kicking off her shoes, hanging up her coat. The air behind her rushed in, chilling the house, smoke from the neighbor’s fireplace flavoring the air. Matt held his breath. Ugh, Lanie said, what a day. She strode to the bedroom. He closed the front door, waited. She returned, sweats on, bra off, hair let down. You look so pretty, he said, reaching for a kiss. Please, I’m disgusting, she said. What’s for dinner? Burritos? Huh.

They’re really good, he protested.

I’m sure they are, Matt, she said, it’s just. Nevermind. She sat down, poked her fork into the hot sauce he’d made. He watched her bring it to her mouth. He’d tasted it repeatedly, so many times he’d lost sensation in his tongue. She licked the fork and smiled. It’s great, she said. Thank you.

After, she cleared the dishes, piled them in the sink, turned on the water. Hey, she said, did you fix the faucet? I did, he grinned. Wow, honey, that’s great. She twisted to him, wrapped her arms around his neck, pulled him close. Thank you.

Matt watched as Lanie finished the dishes, loved the way she kept pushing errant strands of hair behind her ears, how she kept singing Beast of Burden because he’d mentioned the Rolling Stones to her earlier and the smallest mention or snippet would cause a song to occupy her for hours. He loved that he knew that about her. He loved the way her ass looked in her sweats and more how it would look when he tugged them off, which his hands were doing now.

Hey, she said, but not in that way that meant stop. He slid one hand between her legs, the other one across her stomach, pulled her tight. Her breathing quickened. Matt, she whispered, then Matt! Jesus! Stop! She shoved him away, bent over, hands clenching between her legs. Jesus! Oh my god, do you still have hot sauce on your hand? Oh, god! she cried, grabbing a dishtowl from the freshly laundered pile and reaching for the sink. She yanked the handle to cold. The water burst forth.  She stuck the towel into the stream just as the faucet shuddered, tipped, popped off, the geyser returning as the faucet gleamed useless on the bottom of the sink.

Lanie shook her head and sobbed against the fridge. Matt eyed the damage, stuck a finger in his mouth. Beside the taste of Lanie, he loved the taste of Lanie, the slow burn of serrano etched its way orange across his tongue.

Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. Jan Bramlett

     /  August 7, 2013

    Great. Fucking great. Love it.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Reply

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