A Gift from the Kitchen

I made them. How ridiculous to get het up about doing it. Though I can understand why. I need to do things well. I am not good at failing and it had been a long time since I had baked. But I did it. At one point the dough seemed too wet, though I’d followed Delia to the letter. But it was OK. They were OK. I watched his face as he took a bite. Were they too dry, too moist, too sweet? No, he liked them. She’d advised a 1.5 – 2 cm cutter. They looked cute, mouth-wise, wee, bijou. They could be a bit bigger, he said. He had two, some went in the freezer and some in the fridge. I won’t have you giving them away to the homeless on the Prom, he said. But I did. I’d intended too and these days following my intentions seems, at times, the only thing I can do. I buttered and jam-ed them, put them in a sealed bag and popped them in the pocket of his coat and set off on my walk.

They weren’t there. The men weren’t there. Even the one who wrapped himself in a floral counterpane wasn’t there. The wind and rain had been wild. Perhaps they’d gone inside somewhere or left Aber for good. I was disappointed. I wanted them to wake up to them. Fresh scones for breakfast. A gift from the kitchen. My kitchen. Here you are boys. What should I do? I thought. Take them home or leave them. There was a half-full bottle of pop and a plastic bag with stuff in it (I didn’t pry) on the bench, so I placed my offering next to them. A gesture to the gods. My intention. I thought about what might happen to them as I walked away. Perhaps the street cleaner will chuck them. Will he look inside first? Or some students might find them (like that girl that smiled at me, sitting there on a bench, with her friend huddled up in a duvet – it’s funny how you can see smiles in the dark). Or the homeless men may return and eat them after all. Not bad, they might say, not bad at all.

It’s a drop in the ocean this giving. A can of something for the foodbank twice a week. I think about what they’d like. It was Campbell’s Potato and Leek soup today. Sometimes its coffee, hot chocolate, jam or one week it was peanut butter. A treat. Not in a patronising way. But I’ve been there, in that place of little or nothing, and you don’t lose the desire for pleasure, not then, not ever. The taste of sweetness or salt on the tongue. A tiny transcendence.

He was holding his wife’s hand when the wave took her. They found her wallet. The words of his grief are lost to us, a foreign tongue but the sounds, those we know. What can you say? I am so sorry. Truly.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.