Take me back

Sunny Side Up11-2022, 2000 words

Domestic life
Bad Cooking

The morning light was streaming through the curtains when Sol woke up. Barely awake, she yawned and checked the clock.


It was early. Sol usually got up at nine or ten, but never eight. She was a night owl, if having insomnia counted as being a night owl, and mornings were her least favourite part of the day.

But today, Sol didn’t mind that it was eight. She was determined, with a plan that could only be done early. It was important that she finish everything before he woke up. After all, she was going to make a special breakfast for Chet.

Chet, who was currently dozing next to her, was a late riser too. He slept like he loved sleeping, snuggled into the blanket so only his ginger curls peeked out. One arm was snug around Sol’s waist and his legs were tangled with hers, while drooling cutely onto the pillow.

Watching him, Sol’s heart felt squishy and pink. There wasn’t anything special about today, but she liked him a lot and wanted him to know it. To really, really know it. A breakfast seemed like the perfect way to show her love.

Squirming out of Chet’s grip, Sol kicked her legs and stood up. She washed up as quietly as she could and stepped into the kitchen. The plan was simple: to make the sweetest and most delicious breakfast to surprise Chet with. It was going to be wonderful and satisfying, enough to make him say “I love you, Sol!”

She imagined fluffy pancakes and mountains of fruit, cloud-soft whipped cream and a chocolate fountain. Reality was simpler though, and after rummaging around in the fridge, Sol came up with eggs, toast, and juice.

Everything was neatly laid out on the counter. There was bread so she’d make toast. There were eggs so she’d fry them. Then there was juice, which she’d pour into their cups, the custom-printed ones that said “I HEART SOL” and “I HEART CHET.” Chet got them made for their first anniversary.

It wasn’t exactly a five star meal but it was the best she could do. Sol was still learning how to live by herself without her parent’s money to help her. Growing up as the heiress to a multi-million dollar soup company, her childhood involved only the finest soup and nothing else. Chet was the one who knew how to do things like cook and bake. He could sear meat and use the oven, which showed that his childhood was better adjusted than Sol’s.

Sol was trying. She was trying the best she could. With her rolled-up sleeves and fluffy apron, she was going to make breakfast. Last night, she spent hours looking up how to fry an egg, so it had to be good.

As she stared at the ingredients in front of her, Sol bit her lip. She wasn’t nervous exactly, but she didn’t want to mess up and ruin everything. It looked like there were a lot of ways to mess up.

Back when she worried a lot, Chet used to tell her to take deep breaths. Sometimes it helped and sometimes it didn’t, but the fact that Chet cared about her helped the most. Sol took a breath, then another, and picked up an egg. She ran through the steps in her head. First, you cracked the egg. No, before that, you had to heat the pan and pour oil on it. Then you cracked the egg and waited for it to cook. Just like that, you were done. Plain and simple, impossible for anything to go wrong.

The egg was heavy with the weight of expectation. An unsure expression on her face, Sol cracked it and threw the shell into the pan.

Her heart sank.

The egg, the actual, edible part with the white and the yolk, was in the trash can. And the shells were in the pan, where the egg was supposed to be.

Something had gone wrong. She messed up. It was a disaster.

All she wanted was to make a nice breakfast for Chet and this was what happened. Instead of a lovely fried egg, the shells were sizzling in the pan, making all sorts of gruesome noises.

Sol’s eyes felt wet. Her lip wobbled and her legs became weak. She collapsed onto a chair and sniffled, not yet crying but close to tears.

This was silly. She was getting upset over eggs, of all things. No one else would do that, especially not Chet, but she couldn’t help it. Sol was like that, glass-hearted and teary-eyed. When her feelings hit her, they hit like a wave. She wanted Chet to have a wonderful morning and now it was going to be her fault that he wouldn’t. He would walk in to see the pan burning, a perfectly good egg in the trash, and Sol sobbing on the chair.

Knowing herself, she was going to burn the toast and spill the juice too. Maybe the toast would be so horrible that not even scraping off the blackened ends could save it. The juice would dribble down the counter and stain the floor orange. Sol put her hands in her face and wept.

Then Chet stumbled in.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, rubbing his eyes.

He was still half-asleep, a mess of orange hair and freckles. In any other situation, Sol would’ve cooed and fussed over his sleepy-cute state. As it was, she could barely look at him.

“Nothing,” Sol said in a small voice. “I was just cleaning up the mess.”

Chet’s eyes darted to the smoke coming from the pan and realization dawned on his face. He went over to her side and touched her shoulder. “Were you making breakfast?”

His hand was warm. It reminded her to breathe. Sol relaxed, just a little. “It was for you,” she said weakly.

“Oh.” His mouth wobbled and broke into a grin.

“It’s not very good,” she said quickly. She smelled smoke in the air and her skin prickled with shame. “I didn’t make it right.”

Pushing her chair back with a screech against the floor, Sol got up and took the pan.

She still didn’t understand why it went wrong. It seemed so simple, but then she made a dumb mistake and it wasn’t easy anymore. Sometimes, Sol felt like everything she did turned out that way.

The moment the eggshells fell into the trash, Chet hugged her.

“Sol.” Catching her by surprise, he embraced her from behind, his arms holding her still. Chet squeezed her tight, like he was never letting go. “It doesn’t have to be good. I’m happy you thought about me.”

He said it like, It’s okay. I understand. I know. I love you.

“I love you too,” Sol murmured. The pit in her stomach loosened and she felt better, somehow. Like everything was okay again. The eggs didn’t matter that much.

She melted into him and sighed. “I thought it would go well. I had all these ideas of a wonderful breakfast to surprise you with.”

Chet stood on his tiptoes so he could nuzzle Sol’s neck. “That’s sweet. You’re sweet.”

Sol couldn’t help it. She broke into a smile. “You’re the sweet one,” she murmured. Sometimes she called him as much, with words of endearment like honey and sweetie and dear. Chet would say her name back, like “Sol” was all those things and more. Chet could never hide his feelings. If he said he loved her, then he loved her with all his heart. It made Sol feel warm and dizzy, like she was melting inside. Setting the pan on the counter, Sol turned around to face him. 

“What are we going to do about breakfast?” she asked softly.

“We could skip...“ Chet paused at the stormy look on Sol’s face, and wisely changed course. “Would you like to try again together?”

Sol nodded.

“Then let’s do it! I’ll make the toast.” Bouncing into action, Chet grabbed two slices of bread and moved to the toaster. “Oh, the setting’s all the way up.”

“Sorry,” Sol said automatically.

“It wasn’t you, it was me.” He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. Seeing Sol’s confusion, Chet elaborated. “Sometimes I like to turn it all the way up so it toasts faster, then I take the bread out early, before it burns. I dunno, it makes sense when I’m barely awake.” 

He plopped the toast into the toaster and shrugged. “See, we all do weird things in the morning.”

“I suppose so,” Sol said.

It was a relief to know Chet had his moments too. He was strange and weird, but it didn’t change the fact that he was incredibly loveable and bouncy like a ball. 

She held the new, whole egg in her hand and cracked it. It fell into the pan and gave off a satisfying sizzle. Thank goodness.

“You’re actually quite good at cooking, you know? You just overthink.” Chet leaned against the counter, smiling at her fondly.

Sol turned pink. “Is that so?” she said quietly. She wasn’t sure. Then again, it wasn’t like she ruined eggs every morning, so maybe Chet had a point. Most of the time, it wasn’t so bad.

Without anything else to say, she started fussing with the egg, poking it with her spatula for no reason at all. “I suppose it’ll be done soon,” she mumbled.

Perhaps Chet was right. From the beginning of the morning, her nerves had gotten the better of her. At least she wasn’t so worried now.

“Does it bother you?” Sol said all of a sudden. “That I’m such a nervous wreck. It’s not like walking on eggshells with me, is it?”

Chet snorted when she said eggshells, then became serious. “No,” he said firmly and took her hand, squeezing it tight. “No, it doesn’t bother me at all. I would never, ever think anything like that.”

His gaze was fierce, and in that moment, Sol knew he would fight the world for her sake. It thrilled her and scared her, but most of all, she felt safe. She smiled. “I should’ve known. Sorry for asking.”

“Don’t apologize.”

“Then... thank you?” Sol said hesitantly.

“Don’t thank me either.” And he kissed her square on the lips.

Just in time, Sol remembered to reach over and turn off the stove, and then Chet was holding her waist and pushing her back against the counter. Sol closed her eyes and let herself be kissed again and again, as many times as it took to understand his feelings. She blushed and kissed back, distantly aware of the egg still frying in the pan. It would have a firm yolk but that was fine. No matter how it turned out, their breakfast was going to be delicious.

“You look cute in an apron,” Chet said between kisses. He idly teased the strings of her apron, pulling the bow loose.

Sol let him. She knew how fidgety he could get and besides, his tugs were reassuring in their own way. “Thank you,” she said and ran her fingers through his hair.

The toaster dinged and they jumped, turning their heads. The toast was blackened beyond saving.

“Oops,” Chet said.

They remade the toast. It was that easy.

While they were sitting at the table and Sol was spreading blueberry jam on toast, Chet spoke.

“You know, if you gave me the burnt eggs, the toast, and the juice, even if it was terrible, I’d still eat it all. Because you made it for me.”

Sol smiled. “I know,” she said.

He smiled back at her. “I’m glad you do.”

She tore off a piece of toast and fed it to him. He kissed her fingertips on the way back.