COOKING FOR ONE – A short story by Chin Li

When the alarm went off, she was jolted out of her vanishing dream (like a bird, it flew away). Instinctively, her arm reached across to the other side of the bed. The other duvet was there, neatly folded, undisturbed. She turned slowly away.

Ten minutes later she was in the shower. She washed herself with care. As her fingers lingered, a shiver went right through her body. She abruptly turned the dial from hot to cold. As the ice-cold water lanced down, she gasped, and her body shook violently. But she resolutely kept herself rooted to the spot.

Breakfast was always special. Peace and quiet. Even on a weekday. No TV; no radio. The same muesli; the same peppermint tea. When she had finished, she picked up the note from the table and read it again, despite already knowing it by heart.

Chin's post-it

When did Helen move to London?  Must’ve been a few years now.  She smiled, sadly.  Trying hard not to think too much.

That evening she cooked chicken stew, but in the end put most of it in the freezer.  Before going to bed, she showered again (this twice-a-day ritual was so important).  This time she did it quickly, not letting her hands roam.  Then she took the thick bundle of note papers from the drawer of the other bedside table, picked one randomly without looking, carried it through to the kitchen and put it next to her cereal bowl on the dining table.  Her eyes caught the familiar handwriting, and the word “Sweetheart…” jumped out.   

I’ll get a bottle of rosé tomorrow, she thought to herself.