(Bitter Coffee Oatmeal originally eaten and posted here.)
When Eve threw away the espresso machine, John saw it as a challenge. He watched as she unplugged the $100 Krups that he'd bought in the winter and proceeded to the condo garbage shoot. She didn't say anything when she came back, just rubbed her hands together as a sign that her work was done. John thought, typical, and went back to his tomato and basil sandwich.
He described the weeks that followed as a bender. He drove to work each morning feeling as though he'd been out until 2 a.m., discussing politics and religion with freshly-turned 21-year-olds. His solace was John Mellencamp, the only remaining CD he had that hadn't yet been turned into an iTune.
When Eve said she'd make him oatmeal in the morning to compensate, he said sure. He'd sworn off oats sometime in the 70s but everything involving Eve had turned into spite for the sake of it. The first morning, she covered the oatmeal with a layer of walnuts. "For your heart," she said. John ate four bites, the mushy sugarless substance stuck in the space between his gums and cheek. He looked down at his pants and then at his shirt to see if he was wearing a school uniform.
The weeks after went something like this: John ate four bites, then five, then six until he progressed to finishing the bowl. Eve started making the bowls larger, topping the oats with impossible fruit like grapefruit. John finished them successfully with few stomach aches.
One morning, the day John turned 41, Eve was in the kitchen earlier than normal. She said she was making a special bowl, that he should take his time in the shower. He lathered quickly with a bar of soap and didn't wash his hair.
When he snuck to the kitchen wearing nothing but a towel, he watched Eve pour old coffee grounds into his oatmeal. They had been sitting in the pot since the morning before.