Mick awoke to the smell of coffee. Opening his eyes and stretching, he saw that Fran was missing. He turned over and fell back asleep.
When he woke a second time, Fran was leaning over him, talking into his ear in her kid-from-The-Shining voice, “Coffee. Cooooffeeeeeee.” He opened his eyes to see her freshly showered face smiling down at him. She held out a mug with a cartoon pony on it. It read, “SMALL FAT AND MIGHTY.”
“You fell asleep,” he said, taking the mug.
“Yeah.” She wrinkled her nose in apology.
“Yes! Which means I get to feed you, for a change!”
“I didn’t know if it would be okay for me to stay,” he persisted.
“Of course it’s okay! You’ve stayed before.”
“A million years ago. On the couch, when I drank too much. This was different.”
“It was.” She nodded, sunshine sparkling in her hair. “It was fabulously different.”
“Transformational. I feel…” she paused to inhale deeply and sigh. “Ebullient. Like I’m back in my body. I don’t know where I was before, but I wasn’t here. The noise is back in its box. Thank you.”
“Good. Good.” He rubbed his face and took a sip of coffee.
She sprawled herself next to him. “Dare I ask how it was for you? All that Woman in the bed wasn’t too much for you?”
“It was maybe the best sex of my life.” He heard the awe in his voice. Felt it in his heart.
“I told you fat chicks are awesome.” She beamed and snuggled into her pillow.
“You’re okay about… the thing?”
“What? Oh, am I in love with you?” She rolled her eyes and snorted. “Please, Micky, get over yourself. It was an awesome lay, but I know who you are. And are you all weird?
“Not that I can tell.”
“Awesome. We are awesome. Hey should I make pancakes?”
He didn’t want pancakes. He wanted to make love to her again, make her come again, watch her face, the way she got lost in pleasure, utterly abandoned to the sensations he created in her. Reverently, he brushed a wave of damp hair from her forehead, and said, “Sure. Melt the fondue on them.”
She laughed and bounced from the bed, “I like how you think, sir!” As she floated from the room, she called, “Shower’s ready when you are. Breakfast’ll be ready in a few.”
When he had hauled himself into the shower, Mick stood under the spray and smiled. She was back. Almost miraculously, overnight, she had gotten the sunshine back, gotten back the bubbles that made her the fizz and float in his life.
When he pulled on last night’s clothes and made his way to the kitchen, empty mug in hand, he found Fran pouring batter and effervescing. She smiled at him and started talking. “I knew this guy once who – okay actually it was Marcel – he said, ‘Eat to live, don’t live to eat,’ and I was all, ‘Okay, but eat to live, not just to live.’ Dude, I think you must be right about me falling in love when I fuck people. Actually, now that you’ve pointed it out, I think the problem is when I screw people before I really know them. Would I ever have had sex with him if I had known he was so hung up about pleasure? It makes me wonder if I would ever fall in love with anyone if I waited for sex until I knew them better. There’s a stack in the oven if you’re ready, and the chocolate’s in that pot.”
Mick poured himself more coffee and filled a plate with equal parts pancakes and melted chocolate. At the table, he cut into his food and watched Fran bend to put the last pancakes in the warm oven. Her bathrobe stretched around her bottom, outlining it vividly. She stood and looked at her vacant pan.
“I’ve got this hot griddle here. Should I make bacon?”
“What the hell kind of question is that?” he said through a mouthful of chocolate-soaked pancake.
“I’ll make bacon.” She retrieved a lump of butcher’s paper from the fridge and started pulling strips of bacon from it. Soon the kitchen smelled like heaven.
“You gonna sit down and eat?”
“These’ll be done in a minute, then we can dip them in chocolate!”
Mick chuckled. The fizz and the float. She made him fizz inside too.
He ate for a time in silence. As she joined him at the table with her own plate and a platter of snapping bacon, he said ,“You seem better.”
“I really, really am,” she declared as she constructed a sandwich of bacon and chocolate between two pancakes. She bit into it and closed her eyes. “Just put the carrot in,” she said.
“Thich Nhat Hanh. Mindful eating. ‘When you chew it, you are aware that you are chewing a piece of carrot. Don’t put anything else into your mouth, like your projects, your worries, your fear, just put the carrot in.’ I’m back in my body, and the noise is in its box.” He watched her mouth as she chewed, and it was the same as last night. Everything else disappeared, her entire being focused on her experience.
He picked up a slice of bacon, wiped it into the chocolate residue on his plate, and munched thoughtfully. He noticed that he was eating his jealousy of a chocolate and bacon pancake sandwich. It wasn’t as delicious as the bacon and chocolate.
“Huh,” he said.
She ate without speaking – though not silently. She made little noises of delight and discovery with each bite. She breathed deeply and sometimes vocalized her breath, as she sometimes did when she stretched after a run. Everything about her was radiant this morning.
Then out of the blue, “Hey, how did you know I had a vibrator?”
Mick choked a little on his bacon. “I saw it when I got the condom.”
She nodded and mopped chocolate off her plate with a bit of pancake. “You really complimented me last night. The thing about being turned on by me that first time we worked out? That was really nice. Was it true?”
“How come you never told me?” She sucked chocolate off her thumb with a smack.
He shrugged. “It never came up.” He sipped his coffee and considered for a long moment, then added, “You were completely uninterested, it was never a thing.”