Courgette, spinach, tofu, ginger, and chilli. Stir fried in coconut oil until they smoke. 50 grams of brown rice, spooned into a delicate china bowl, flavoured with soy and topped with coriander.
She sits cross legged on the floor, with her dinner and a pair of slim bamboo chopsticks. In silence.
It’s 7pm in the city. On her way home she passed handsome men hatching plans on tram stop corners, and open-fronted bars sharpening up for the night. Across the corridor she can hear the chaos of family life, interrupted now and then by the mischief of lovers. She’s surrounded by people with noisy, happy lives.
In unit 401 it’s different. She has no partner, no kids, no TV. Her phone doesn’t ring. And right now she doesn’t want it to. It’s the end of the day and she craves nothing more than quiet. Precious time alone, and the easy company of her go-to dinner.
She does this sometimes, seeks refuge in the familiar, as her world spirals into the unknown. Today has been another tornado, and she feels dizzy in its aftermath.
She picks up a courgette with her chopsticks, pauses, and smiles. Then she puts it down, stands up and walks across the room.
Good things happened today, she thought. Her work had been good, she’d been noticed.
She reaches up to the bottle of pinot noir on the kitchen shelf, twisting the screw top as she lowers herself back down to the floor. “He liked how I danced,” she thought, “and he clapped, sincerely.” She dries a beaker and pours herself a glass.
Leaning against the counter she raises the glass. “To me,” she says, “to being bloody brilliant. And life getting easier.” She sips, drops her eyes to the floor, and takes a deep breath, before returning to her dinner, and biting into a soft, familiar, and fiery mouthful.