Spaghetti and Champagne
The water boiled, bubbles forming and exploding simultaneously in a chaotic cacophony of splashing. Dale dumped the spaghetti in, calming the chaos, and put the top back on the pot. In ten minutes or so, it'd be ready. Jen would be home by then. He started on the sauce, grabbing the jar of Prego on the counter, twisting off the cap and dumping it into a cast iron pan currently warming up on the stove next to the pot of spaghetti. He tasted the sauce, mushroom and basil on the label, and nodded his head. She'd be surprised, he'd sweep her off her feet. It'd be perfect.
He went to the fridge and grabbed the bottle of Bollinger Ay champagne. He had no idea what the name meant, but it was expensive and that was good enough. He grabbed two flute glasses and brought the champagne to the small plastic kitchen table. It looked pretty enough with the flowery tablecloth he'd laid out. He thought it was her favorite, but wasn't sure. It would be enough though, that he'd simply thought to have it, or at least he hoped so.
There were two places set and a tall candle in the middle. Their finest china, which had come from Jen's mother, and her grandmother before that. She would appreciate everything, all the effort he'd put in. It'd show her he truly cared about her, truly wanted to make the relationship work.
He placed the glasses, popped the champagne, and poured, afterwards setting the champagne on the table. He took a moment, looking over the table set up. It was lovely. The dinner was only spaghetti, but he didn't really know how to make anything else, especially not chicken carbonara, the meal she'd ordered on their first date at that lovely Italian place. What was it called again? Oh well, it didn't matter. The simple fact that he'd done all this would be enough. It would be such a pleasant surprise. He grabbed a lighter and lit the candle. When she came home, he'd dim the lights. How romantic, a candlelit dinner. He couldn't wait.
A hiss from the kitchen brought him out of his thoughts and he dashed to the stove, taking the top off and stirring the noodles. He tried one. Still a little hard, a minute or two more would be perfect.
His cellphone buzzed in his pocket. It was Jen. His heart skipped a beat and he felt nervous, as if he was going on one of his first dates. He smiled and answered.
“Hey honey,” he said, trying not to sound too excited, trying not to give anything away. “Did you just get out of work, are you on your way home?”
“Hi Dale,” she said rather formally. She sounded tired. “I just got out of work.”
“You sound tired, is everything alright?” He gulped. Was something wrong? It didn't matter, as soon as she got home and saw everything, it would be alright.
“No, Dale, nothing's right. Nothing's working.”
He hesitated, wiping his face with his free hand. “Well,” He said. “Well just come home and we'll figure it out. We'll work it out. Just come home and we'll talk.”
“I'm not coming home, Dale.”
“But-” He was walking around the kitchen now. “But you have to. Just come home, Jen. I'll...I'll make it alright. Just please come home.” He sounded desperate and he hated it. He wondered if he should just tell her, ruin the surprise. It wouldn't be a surprise anyways, if she never knew about it.
“I'm sorry Dale, it's over.”
“No wait!” He replied, smacking his hand on the kitchen counter, hard but not caring about the pain. “What about your stuff? Your mother's china? All your things? Just come home and get your things. We don't even have to talk if you don't want to-”
“Throw my stuff away. I don't care about it anymore. I can't come home, Dale. I just can't. I'm-” She sighed. “I'm seeing someone else. I'm sorry. This is goodbye.” She didn't even give him a chance to respond, he just heard a click, her hanging up on him.
He set his phone on the counter. The pot was hissing again, and the sauce was simmering, bubbles forming and popping at a slow rate. He turned off the heat to both, poured the pasta into the colander in the sink. He shook it a couple times. He brought the pasta over to the flowery clothed kitchen table with tongs, and set a mound of spaghetti on each plate. He set the colander on the table and went back for the sauce. He put an oven mitt on, grabbed the cast iron handle and brought the sauce over with a large spoon, spooning out a pool onto each pile of noodles. He set the pan onto the table.
He took a seat, folding his white napkin onto his lap as was proper. He took his glass of champagne and clinked it against the other one. He took a sip.
“It's good, isn't it? I wonder what Bollinger Ay means? Something in French probably.”
She wouldn't have known either.
He mixed the spaghetti and sauce around with his fork. He took a bite, slurping up the noodles that hung out of his mouth.
Even though she wouldn't have said anything, he knew she would've been annoyed.
“Sorry. I know you hate it when I do that.”
He ate in silence for a few moments, sipping at the champagne.
“I know it's no chicken carbonara.” He smiled. She would've smiled too. “What was that lovely Italian place called again?”
She wouldn't have remembered either of course, but they would've had a good laugh remembering that first date. The recent past would've been forgotten. All would've been well.