I didn’t realise it at the time, didn’t realise the significance. I just looked at the golden brown, slightly misshapen pancake on the flowery plate in front of me, butter melting on it, sugar dissolving, and smiled at her, picking up my fork and digging in.
Tommy told me later. “Pancakes are like. Her thing.”
I frowned. “Excuse me?”
“You know, her thing.” He was chopping peppers, red and green and yellow, sharp knife a blur of motion. He was never still, was Tommy. “She didn’t make pancakes just for anyone. I know they’re ridiculously easy to make, but she says she can never be bothered going to all that effort. She only makes them for people she cares about. Was it the morning after?”
I gaped at him, sure my cheeks were bright red. “What… I… I mean…”
He laughed. “Come on, Cat, don’t be coy, just tell me.”
“Yeah, okay,” I muttered, not meeting his eye. “I stayed at hers the night before.”
He practically crowed with laughter, and I looked up to glare at him. “Stayed at hers? You mean you slept together. You fucked. You-”
“Okay okay,” I said hastily, before he could get any cruder. “For an ace person, you’re very explicit.”
He grinned. “What can I say?” he said, brandishing the knife and shrugging. “I love to subvert expectations.”
I smiled despite myself. “Anyway, yes, she made me pancakes,” and I could feel the heat rising to my cheeks. “But I didn’t realise the significance. I didn’t realise…” I could hear the unspoken in his words. I knew what she’d been through. I knew what this meant.
Tommy frowned at me. “What are you gonna do now you know?”
It would have to be something good. The pancakes had been delicious, but more than that. Her soft smile across the table, the orange juice in the blue cup by my plate- so sharp and sweet and lovely, her hand brushing mine as she slid another pancake onto my plate… I may have loved her before that, but that morning was the moment I truly realised that I’d be happy to spend my life with this girl.
And so I played the piano for her, and she brought her hands to her mouth and I knew that she knew, that she knew what this meant, and I was shaky from emotion and clumsy from lack of practice and she sat next to me on the seat, tears in her eyes, and she kissed me soft and sweet, and I smiled.