|(the first draft of a very short short fiction story)|
At the table he stood, measuring out flour and yeast and water. She would step over to him, and hug him tight round the waist, and then she rest her elbows on the table, watching him.
Across the table, he would be mixing together all the ingredients. Once everything was combined, they would sprinkle flour across the table together. It looked like the snow they got in the winter months when it was cold out, or maybe like the way the blossom fell from the trees in April when the wind blew. They would take it in turns to knead the bread, and she watched as he controlled the way he punched at it, and the way each time he hit the bread, he did it not as if he was hitting it, but almost as if he was hugging it.
Often, their best conversations came from those Thursday afternoons of baking bread. It was the only way he knew, in the later years, what she was doing. Sometimes the silence and the focus and the way she punched the bread would tell her all he needed to know. And sometimes the way she would just stand there, tracing her finger listlessly in the flour, drawing the same patterns over and over again, would tell him all he needed to know. Somehow the bread brought them closer together.
After years of Thursday afternoons spent baking bread, he was alone at the table. He was alone in the house too. And now he was hitting the bread with a punch and no conversation came with the process. Most of the time the cooked loaf went to the birds in the garden.
But she grew tired of sliced mass-manufactured loaves from the supermarket shelf, and her broken gas oven, and the kitchen that was too small to bake bread in.
She came in from the cold, hung up her coat on the rack by the door, and walked into the kitchen. On the shelf above the sink, there was still a pile of aprons. Again she took her favourite one, but it barely grazed her thighs.
Her father still stood at the table, measuring ingredients. She stepped over to him, hugged him tight around the waist, and watched him across the table.
He kept mixing the ingredients, until the dough in the bowl was just right. Together, they sprinkled flour across the table, and they split the dough into smaller pieces, and they each kneaded a piece. And somehow, they both seemed to be hugging the bread, in the way they used to, and that told them everything they needed to know.