When we shut the front door behind us, we shut up Tinsel Cake alone in the kitchen to gaze upon fresh, cooling Gingerbread. This is Claudia Fleming’s Gramercy Tavern gingerbread made with a cup of stout and a cup of molasses. I can’t decide if I want to serve it with a rum raisin sauce or a maple glaze, and this dilemma preoccupies me all the way to Jack’s former in-laws—that, and how I envy the kids’ Elf on the Shelf® for staying home on Christmas morning. Tinsel Cake had lucked out.
When we arrive, Jack hands over the seltzer water we were asked to bring, and then, someone places a gin and tonic in my hand. People in tech aren’t good communicators, Jack’s ex-wife says. All round, ice cubes clink in empty, crystal lowballs like clappers in bells, I think, or like pinballs, or justice.
I excuse myself to the restroom to escape the small talk that’s only happening between a grad student from down the street and me. We’re down to admiring objects and portraits on the walls to the hostess. Jack’s playing Legos with his youngest while the other two one-up one another by insulting their family members. The other adults keep on drinking, and by the time I lock the bathroom door and turn on the hot water, I’m remembering last year when Jack texted me from this room about adoration, the taste of my skin, kisses lit by starlight, about the drunk adults, confused kids, and Christmas Day hangovers.
It’s sleeting outside, pinging against the window, and there’s a marmalade cat with a black pirate patch curled up under the sink by a litter box, watching me watch the sleet stick to the panes.
I text my husband from the bathroom, I can feel your pulse beating under my lips. Take me home. It’s Christmas.
It was a treat to allow myself the opportunity to wallow in Meg’s writing. So many pieces called to me, and eventually, one kept calling louder than others. It was “Baking” published in Wigleaf in 2008.
April Bradley is a Durham, North Carolina-based writer and editor. Her work has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize as well as for The Best Microfiction, The Best of Small Fictions, and The Best of the Net Anthologies. Her writing appears in Blink Ink, CHEAP POP, Heavy Feather Review, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Narratively, and Smokelong Quarterly among others. She serves as an associate editor for fiction at Pidgeonholes and as a submissions editor at SmokeLong Quarterly.