My buddy Stan called from a bar to say he was coming for breakfast the next morning.
So before he arrived, I diced onions, chopped peppers and shredded potatoes for a big meal of hash browns O’Brien.
When he managed to show up, he didn’t look so good.
He looked even worse when he saw what I was making.
Fumbling for a chair, he groaned, “How about toast instead?”
It’s been a long time since my toaster saw action. Mostly it just squats on the counter, growing old and occupying space.
The years have dulled its finish to the color of ditch water. The dial is no longer legible and the lever barely works. None of this is due to over-use. The only wear it gets is when I shove it out of the way to wash the counter. Still I wouldn’t dream of tossing it out.
It is not even mine.
It belongs to an old girlfriend. One whose love for burnt toast and apricot jam exceeded her love for me.
When she left me (and she left suddenly), she took the bookcase and the books (even mine). She emptied the cupboards and carted off the silverware then she stormed into the bathroom and cleaned out of the medicine cabinet (after she had packed up the towels and the shower mat).
She even stole the toilet brush.
She left the house so empty, it echoed.
I swear the girl would have taken the echoes if she could. All she left was the toaster and that was a bit of a mystery.
Perhaps since she took everything I loved, she left something she loved out of guilt and while I never loved toast, I hung on to that toaster.
I kept it to remind myself of what I had missed. I missed her brilliant green eyes. I missed her fiery red hair and I missed her volcanic temper (it was the only thing in nature that could singe the surface of the sun).
I don’t know exactly why she left me. Someone said it was because of a fling she had with someone else.
Whoever that was, I owe him my thanks.
Still… I think about it now and then, especially when I catch a glimpse of that toaster. It just sits there on my counter as a witness to my days, like a little time-machine that moves me back and forth from past to present and reminds me – of all the things that might have been… I have the best.
I loaded the toaster for Stan and waited until a column of blue smoke curled from the slots, indicating that his toast was just the way he liked it.
“You got any jam?” he asked.
“Sure,” I told him, “I have grape and raspberry and oh yeah, I always keep a jar of apricot jam handy… just for you.”