I Always Said She Needed to Add More Sugar
I called my wife’s number today. It wasn’t her that answered, of course. She was buried months ago. It was just a mistake. Wrong speed-dial number.
“Sorry, wrong number,” I said and hung up. I wiped my eyes with my hands and wiped my hands on the couch. It made me think of her. There were photos of her on the wall. They were stuck up with blue-tack. If I took them off they might have torn at the wallpaper and left white marks, and she had put up the white wallpaper last year and was always saying things like, “Nathan, white walls in a house show cleanliness.”
She was minimalist like that. She knew I was a messy kind of guy and spent five years trying to change me. She never did.
I went into the kitchen and took a book from the shelf. It was her recipe book of cakes. I wanted to make a cake. A raspberry cake. She would make a raspberry cake on Sundays and we’d shared a spoon and eat half down in one sitting. I fingered down the page and took the ingredients I needed. I followed her recipe. She got it from her mum and her mum from her mum. So it was kind of special. She was from one of those families that liked to pass down things. I made the cake and put it in the oven.
Then I went back to the living room and took out a packet of loose tobacco and a metal grinder from a drawer in the coffee table. I ground a lump of green. I spread out tobacco on a Rizla and added the green. Then a filter. Then I rolled it tight and lit it. I used a plate as an ashtray.
When it was down to the filter I stubbed it out and rolled a normal cigarette this time. She never used to let me smoke in the house.
There were photos of our holidays; Corsica and Germany and Spain and Egypt. And then some others. One was of our second anniversary. November, fourteenth. Fifteenth. Shit. But they had no order. They jumped back and forth between the years. She got older then younger; then she was on a beach, then in a bar. So I took them down carefully. I left the blue-tack on the wall. I spread them on the table and started to order them chronologically. There were no photos of the last year. She wouldn't want it.
The alarm on the oven rang. I turned it off and took out the cake and put it on the side to cool.
There were about eighty photos and I struggled to remember when a few were taken. So I moved them around like a man doing three-card monte. But I didn't know what I was meant to be looking for. I came to a decision and started to put them back on the wall. It looked better now. First date. First month. First year. Then such and such.
I went back into the kitchen and took a slice of cake. The raspberries were good. The texture, good. Good base. But it needed more sugar. Not sweet enough for me. I always said she needed to add more sugar. But she swore against it. I took a pen and the recipe book. I drew a line across the words, 'Sugar – 150g'. It was in her handwriting. I crossed out her handwriting. Then I wrote next to it in my handwriting, 'Sugar – 225g'.
Afterwards I rolled another cigarette. I put the cake in the bin. I always said she needed to add more sugar. I stubbed out the cigarette. Then I took the photos off the wall again and put them in a drawer.
About the author:
David Hutt is a British short story writer and poet. He currently lives in Brighton, U.K, but will soon be moving to Cambodia. His work has appeared in numerous literary publications, including in The Commonline Journal, The Literary Yard and Smashed Cat.