Cora only had frozen pierogies and an apple in her fridge. That would have been ok, except she’d had pierogies for breakfast and dinner the day before, and the apple had been in her crisper for over a month beside a rotting onion and now the apple kind of smelled like onion.
Cora didn’t know what to do. It was cold outside and she was a little hungover and she didn’t feel like putting on pants. She sat at her kitchen table and drank a cup of hot water because she’d run out of tea two days before.
A few months ago, a friend of a friend of hers had stayed over and the only food she’d had to give him for breakfast was tomato soup and oatmeal cookies.
“Have you been really busy lately?” he’d asked. “Is that why you don’t have any food?”
“No,” she’d told him. “I just don’t know how to be an adult. I’ve lived on my own since I was seventeen, and I still can’t remember to do laundry and eat vegetables and shower before work.”
Cora stood in front of her cupboard now and opened and closed the door. She stared at the half-bag of marshmallows, the caramel sauce, the expired soup broth and the almost untouched bag of flour on the top shelf. She stood there for a long time, swinging the door in front of her face, listening to the refrigerator motor click on and someone walking in the apartment above. She thought about swimming in the river at her parent’s cabin and about how she’d only gotten 80% in her high school English class. She thought about her older brother who lived in Seattle. She wondered if he could drive a standard and if he was growing a beard, and then, in the middle of those thoughts, as though God had lowered the idea down to her from the ceiling, she realized she had all the ingredients to make pancakes.
“Peach,” she called when her roommate came home half an hour later. “You’ll never guess what I’m doing.”
Peach still had her coat on, and her cheeks were red from the cold.
“I’m making pancakes. Do you want pancakes?”
They ate the pancakes with their hands, dipping them into a plate of syrup while Cora stood by the stove and made more and more.
“Look at this,” Peach said flipping through the cook book Cora had gotten the pancake recipe from. “I forgot I was a chef in training. If you ever want to see the recipes I’ve made up, I wrote them all in the back of here.”
Cora slid more pancakes onto Peach’s plate.
“This one’s called the break-up sandwich,” Peach read. “And this one’s called the reunion sandwich. It’s the same as the break-up sandwich except you use whole wheat bread and add lettuce.”
Cora hadn’t been outside yet, but the sun came in warm through the big kitchen windows. She watched two squirrels fight each other in the back yard and a plastic bag blow across the grass.
Cora ate another pancake with her hands and made Peach read her more recipes from the little book.
“Ok,” said Peach. “This one’s called spicy salt and vinegar pierogies. It’s from when I made spicy pierogies and then crushed salt and vinegar chips on top.”
That afternoon, Cora had meant to go to the grocery store. She had put on her coat and hat and had left the house and everything, but instead of walking east toward No Frills, she found herself going south down to the lake. There was no one there except for her some ducks and two swans swimming by themselves further off. The sand was hard under her feet, and the sun was dropping low and red behind the new condos in Etobicoke. Cora climbed onto a log, washed onto the shore. She balanced on it like she was a gymnast while the ducks watched, unimpressed.
Cora remembered coming to this beach with her brother and throwing rocks into the water, and she remembered coming here with her childhood best friends and a bottle of wine on Canada day. They hadn’t even planned it, but they’d gotten to the beach just in time to watch the fireworks shoot out over the Ex, the stars and the spiraling colours reflecting off the glassy black lake.
It was cold now that the sun had set. Cora jumped off the long into the sand, landing the dismount for the indifferent ducks. She still didn’t have tea at home, but at least there were pancakes there. She knew that eventually she would have to get food, just like she would eventually have start looking for a job and file her taxes, but until then, there were pancakes. She still had pierogies in her freezer and that apple in the back of her fridge that kind of smelled like onion. Probably, Peach had a recipe for all those things:
Step 1: Combine one apple. Twenty two pierogies and half a bag marshmallows.
Step 2: Bake at 425F for an hour and a half.
Step 3: Add lettuce and crush salt and vinegar chips over top of the whole thing.
Step 4: Enjoy.