My buddy Stan called from a bar to say he was coming for breakfast the next morning.
When he managed to show up, he didn’t look so good. He looked even worse as he watched me slice peppers, onions and ham for my favorite omelet.
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 numerals on the dial are no longer legible and the lever barely works. Yet 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, and she left suddenly, she took the books and the bookcase. She emptied the cupboards and carted off the silverware then she stormed into the bathroom to pack up the towels, roll up the shower mat and clean out the medicine cabinet. She even took the toilet brush.
When she finally left, the house was 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 even her volcanic temper.
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 after catching a glimpse of that toaster. It just sits there on my counter as a witness to my days, serving as a little time-machine that moves me back and forth from the past to present and reminds me that 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.”