How to Bake Bread at Home
Fiona Kennedy

What is there to say? You took the bread pan when you left. We always talked about turning into that couple that bakes on the weekends, using ingredients purchased from our local farmer’s market and following my great-aunt’s recipes. Irish brown bread in the winter, cranberry orange in the summer, cinnamon swirl when your brother is visiting. I think we underestimated the time and money it would take to go around selecting fruits and placing them in macrame bags, or else we overestimated the number of farmer’s markets-per-capita in the city. Either way, we never did turn into that couple, but we filled the first empty shelf in our new kitchen with flour, salt, and yeast.

I picked this place for the windows. It’s an old apartment, and you laughed to find it dull-painted and creaky-hinged but full of light. It seemed even smaller with half-unpacked boxes filling the corners and spilling over with bits and pieces of Kitchen and Bedroom. Sweaters and candles were the first bits I pulled out to warm up late January and early mornings. Beneath the east-facing windows, on the broad white sill, you placed clay-potted herbs, ensuring that the kitchen would always be supplied with basil and thyme.

I grew up loving the dishes, but I only loved the recipes when you read them aloud. Your old Formica table and its two chairs took up most of the kitchen, so cooking had to be either a solo endeavor or a perfectly coordinated dance between the counter and the stove. The dance, set to the rhythm of teaspoons and tablespoons and whatever music floated up from the restaurant on the corner, took the whole winter to perfect.

Spring was a killer, and at first I thought it was the east-facing windows shining too brightly too early on our bed that made the days seem a little too long. I picked up strawberries on the way home from work but you woke up to no milk left for your morning coffee. I painted the dull walls cornflower blue and you forgave me.

By June the hinges on the front door were creaking a little too loudly to leave you asleep when I left each morning. When I think about you here, I see you with a can of WD40 in your hand, or else keeping the herbs watered and the windows clear. I know it’s not my fault and I know goodbyes are a two-way street but when I sit on this now-spacious kitchen floor I remember you at the hinges, and I know that it was you who potted the herbs, and you who knew how to fill a refrigerator past three meals a day, you who bought me cornflowers when you didn’t know what else to say.

What else is there to say? You took the bread pan and left me through a silent door. The kitchen tiles are over-warm with the high summer that streams in through the window, and the refrigerator is empty except for a jar of spoiled yeast.