Garlic

He sat at the island, suffused with hunger and weariness.  Thankfully, after pouring him a glass of wine, she let him be and went about her business.  He sat, chin propped on the heel of his hand, letting the wine sink soothing fingers into his spirit.  Across from him she was busy with cutting board and knife.  She dipped below his field of vision, then reappeared with a skillet.  The rapid click of the gas burner being ignited, the swish of flame, the skillet went down.  She reached over here for a decanter of olive oil, over there for a pat of butter, what she wanted never far from reach.  He watched her pull apart a head of garlic and competently smash the cloves, one by one, under the flat blade of her knife.  The papery skins were tossed in the sink.  She brushed her fingers off on the dishtowel tucked through one of her beltloops.  Gathering the pale yellow spheres into a pile she began to run her knife through them, quick and crisp, the tip of the blade steady on the board, her wrist rocking the handle in a precise rhythm.  Once sliced, she gathered again, and began to chop crosswise.  Rock and run the blade through, gather the pieces, rock and run again.  In the pan, olive oil and butter began to sing.

“Where’d you learn to do that?” he said.

“Do what?”

“Chop like that.”

She scooped up a pile of minced garlic with the knife, carefully dropped it into the skillet, which gave up a satisfying, oily crackle.  She ran the blade carefully through two fingers to get the last bits off.  “I don’t know,” she said.  “Watched a lot of Food Network, I guess.”

The smell of butter and olive oil and garlic was making him woozy.  She shook the pan a little, reached for a wooden spoon.  She took a drink from her own glass as she stirred, put it down and brushed a piece of hair back from her face with the back of her wrist.  He watched her swift, experienced hands and thought maybe he loved her.

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