27 March 2011

How a Grilled-Cheese Sandwich Gave Me Hope for my Marriage

This is another assignment from my memoir class. It happened 3 months before my husband and I began what would become our 18-month separation. I called it "Hope Renewed." The metaphor at the end there is a little sketchy at this point.

Darkness surrounded the little house and everyone was asleep. I leaned against the pillows that piled up in front of my bamboo headboard. Adjusting the round weight of eight months of unborn baby as best I could, I tried to suppress a sigh, surely my second or third. James' voice shot out from underneath his pillow.


"I'm just hungry."

"You want me to make something for you?"

Trying to contain my skepticism because of my hunger, I doubtfully replied "yeah?"

"You want a turkey sandwich?"
"No, I had one for lunch."

"Some of that Italian Wedding Meatball soup?"

"hmm," I knew that each rejection I gave was like throwing a pot of boiling water on the thin ice of our relationship. Soon he or I would crash through and be plunged into the frozen lake of our marriage.

Surely his last offer, he said "What about a grilled-cheese sandwich?"

I paused. "I like mine a certain way."
"I know how you like it."
"Really." my voice held no faith. "I don't want to eat one that's made wrong. I'm not too hungry, I'll just have some Triscuits and cheese."

"I know how you like grilled cheese," he was defensive, bored with me.

"Right. How do I like it?" I challenged, not expecting much in response.

"Mayo on the inside. A slice of cheese in the corner. Break up another slice and fill in the gaps. All symmetrical and even. A couple of shakes of cayenne, and then butter on the outside. Pretty crunchy but not burnt." He listed the steps in impatient order.

I let the tears well up but did not let them spill. He did know. How much did we know of each other, over these years, that stood as a sturdy dock, submerged and invisible after a long season of too much rain, an early winter? Maybe if the frozen lake did thaw, we would find ourselves on solid footing.

I'm honored that you would read New Mercy and I would love to hear from you through comments!Teresa (Tracy) Dear