It would be years before you’d remind him about the pie. How hot it was earlier in the park, a serendipitous festival with acapella singers and a gritty ukulele player. The room you shared in this faraway city was sweltering and so together you wandered late into the night and eventually stumbled into this pie shop. You were financially independent in all your dealings at the time. You’d wanted it that way. And so, when you reminded him about the pie all those years later, when you brought it up with the hope of putting away your sourness for good, he seemed surprised.
Why didn’t you get your own pie? I never knew you were even hungry.
Rain is about to fall, you think, torrential rains. This is it, your entire reason for coming, and all the lights in the shop are shuttered and you can’t see yourself ever returning. It took a leap of courage to revisit this place. You didn’t even know the shop still existed until recently, and then it was obvious you had to return. You’d finally get what he’s essentially kept from you all these years.
The trouble isn’t so much in the all these years, but rather in that first, pivotal lapse. Similar lapses have recurred in one form or another, but so infrequent that you’ve been able to put each one behind you. The lapses arise as a form of detachment. He just forgets you sometimes. Infrequent as they are, these lapses have kept you low, as though you lie permanently wedged inside his cupboard.
Lemon pie started it, your entire future together in those two slices of lemon meringue pie. Unable to extricate yourself even then. And in the years since, you’ve never said a word about the pie incident to anyone else, not even a therapist. You can’t abide therapists. It isn’t in your makeup to talk so sincerely and openly about yourself.
Maybe rain isn’t about to fall, maybe you only imagine it. You’ll leave here without any pie. It’s so infuriating. One does not order two slices of lemon meringue pie, the last two in the shop, and eat them both without offering so much as a bite. It’s the principle. He didn’t say a word, only shoveled in one mouthful after another of crust and congealed lemon and frothy brown-tinged meringue, his spooning actions semi-feral almost, pushing one plate away when it was empty, pulling the next toward himself. You felt a sour leak permeate your being, which is another reason you never could see a therapist. Because of psychoanalysis. Lemons and sourness were such stupid, obvious metaphors and any therapist worth her salt would fixate on the metaphors and that’d be that, and maybe you don’t want resolution. Maybe you just want pie.
The lovemaking was madly furious back then, and in the intervening years your love has, if not maintained its feverish pitch, then stayed the course. You’ve given him your days and hours, have segmented your life around his. Why? Because by the time you both sat in that shop, this now dark shop with its infuriating unlit sign, and he ate both slices of pie, you were already enmeshed.
You’ve watched him from across the distance through all the lip-puckering sourness. The sourness has lingered and curled up in the crevices, bumpy and yellow. He takes the sweetness away, with his forgetting you, and you say nothing. You’re a pretender in some ways. You make a point of not telling people when you’re hungry or angry. Sometimes, though, you can’t blend in, can’t concentrate when it isn’t in your essence. Or you’re squeezed into an environment without the proper skin to match.
What to do?
The dim reflection of your body is etched into the glass. Maybe you’ll find another pie shop. Or maybe you’ll buy yourself a ukulele. Either way, you’ll return home from this sentimental errand and tell stories about the odyssey. You’ll make him laugh. But why isn’t the pie shop open late anymore?
E.D. Morin recently co-edited the literary anthology Writing Menopause. Her writing has appeared in The Antigonish Review & Fiction Southeast and has been produced for broadcast on CBC Radio. Winner of the Brenda Strathern Late Bloomers Writing Prize, she writes and finds outdoor adventure just a stone’s throw from the Canadian Rockies.