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Breaking Point

We didn’t know this was our last weekend at the cabin as we held each other in the kitchen. Your pancakes were going to burn. You pulled away. I let you. Even if only for the brief amount of time that I could bare the empty space between us. You turned to the stove. I wrapped my arms around your torso from behind as you continued to flip the golden pancakes. You always made pancakes on Saturday mornings. When you suggested I cut some fresh fruit, I did. It was like any other Saturday morning.  

You, with your fluffy buttermilk pancakes and me serving the side of mixed berries and banana slices. I mixed sugar and milk with a little bit of coffee just as you liked it. I served my own coffee perfectly bitter and black. You slid the cinnamon across the countertop to where I was pouring our drinks, but it was a black coffee kind of morning. I thanked you anyway and set the cinnamon aside.  

I set the table with the fine porcelain plates that you never liked to use because you feared you would break them while doing the washing up. It was my morning to do dishes though, so I took my chances, despite you saying paper plates would be fine. I enjoyed the elegant white and blue markings on the matching plate set. You couldn’t care less. There was never an occasion that warranted a matching china set at our little fixer-upper weekend cabin, but the set was here long before we were, and I had every intention of using the lovely plates. We talked about our week over breakfast as we had made a habit of doing. I told you about the raise I was expecting. We both knew I would still be making half as much money as you, but you nodded with a civil smile. You talked about the office, and I zoned out. I never cared for the stories of your boring 9-to-5 office job. I pretended to listen anyway, nodding as if I wasn’t just staring out the window behind you. We both pretended to believe I cared about whatever it was you were saying, despite my intense focus on the navy grey and tawny barn swallow family circling outside. I imagined how I'd paint their moving wings.  

You excused yourself after breakfast to go change out of your pajamas, leaving me to clean up. I didn’t mind. I continued my daydream of the gracefully low-flying birds. I put away the maple syrup, set our coffee mugs by the sink, and grabbed the lovely white and blue plates. A crack in the old wood floorboard caught a thread in my bright purple fluffy socks and I stumbled forward dropping one of the plates to catch myself on the dark stained acacia countertop. It hit the floor with a crash, breaking into two dozen little pieces. You raced from the bedroom in your grey joggers and black running socks and stood staring for a moment. I couldn’t blame you. I didn’t move either. Instead, I stared down at the sharp porcelain fragments that littered the floor. You didn’t yell as we cleaned up the pieces. You didn’t say “I told you so.” You didn’t say anything at all. And that was somehow worse. I apologized and you nodded resignedly. There was nothing else to do but sweep up the pieces.  

After that weekend, you pulled away. I let you. 

  • Cave Kreidell is a senior. He is an English major who spends his spare time writing a mix of poetry and flash fiction. 

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