Aigre-doux

by Madison Wolf

First

The doorbell woke me from my short-lived slumber. I groaned, threw my covers aside and trudged downstairs. Upon opening the massive oak front door to my familys home, I discovered a simple brown box of four blueberry muffins in its usual place in the middle of the welcome mat.

I smiled wide and scooped them up, heading inside. The muffin boy always left me muffins each morning before school. It helped me cope with the everyday anxiety I suffered from, kind of like a comfort food. No one had ever seen who the boy actually was. I admired him for that but was still hell-bent on thanking him, at the very least. I felt that even though we never met he understood something none of my closest friends did. Of course, I probably shouldnt have read into it.

I poured a glass of milk into a cup and made a space at the table to eat where my mothers work papers were scattered in a huge heap. I untied the blue ribbon on the box and removed the top carefully. Soft, spongy, and warm, the muffin was crafted perfectly with just the right amount of slightly bitter blueberries. Just when Id finished the third muffin, the horn of the school bus rang out over my entire neighborhood, its sound bothering the quaint rich folk watering their lawns.

I nearly fell trying to run upstairs. I wasnt even in uniform yet! My stomach twisted in apprehension at the thought of my peers laughing at me as I chased after the bus that would be leaving without me. Before leaving I made sure to grab my last blueberry muffin. Once I just barely got on the bus I sat down and heaved a huge sigh. I ate my last muffin and unintentionally whispered

Thanks, Muffin Boy. without meaning to.

The boy sitting behind me then whispered, youre welcome.

I froze. The boy sitting there couldnt possibly be giving me free muffins. I hadnt talked to Henry Norman since Freshman year. Even now I possessed small feelings for this guy that Id told everything to. He was attractive and he felt like home but over all of that, he wore a mask of over self-confidence that resembled his father too much for my liking.

Why do you do that every day? Are you into me or something? I asked. He laughed.

No way. I just thought you like muffins, right? I saw you with a whole plate of them at the party last year, he said, stubbornly skating around the fact that he liked me and that he paid attention to what I did. I hoped my face wasnt too red for him to notice. He liked me all the way back in third grade when we sat by each other in Ms. Newmans room and got in trouble more times than necessary, for talking when we werent supposed to. He wasnt like the other bratty kids who abided by the invisible social contracts society issues. No, Henry Norman talked and would talk to me regardless. The sky was falling? Hed still talk my ear off about something we had in common while he was catching the falling clouds. It wasnt mindless babble either. Hed get me thinking about the most simple things. But that was before last December.

Were not friends anymore, I say. We arent supposed to talk. I remind him. Our parents nearly ripped each others heads off last last year at the community Christmas party. Noted:do not bring up politics around a fitness junkie and a businessman.

And thats relevant? He said, grinning at me. Why did it feel like the world stopped spinning when he looked at me like that?

My neck was starting to hurt from talking between the bus seats so I turned around both in an attempt to make it stop hurting and for him to stop talking to me. Apparently that meant nothing. He got up and sat next to me while the bus was moving.

Dont you have anything better to do than annoy me? I said, rolling my eyes. He just laughed.

Oh, lighten up. One day youll wish I was here to mess with you.

Then

Okay I swear Ill call when I get to the city.

All right. Love you. Bye.

The last phone call is still ingrained in my mind and I replay his voice every single day. Its not healthy, I know. He was on his way home from his Dads house after we had another fight. I was at home in our small apartment in Charlotte, North Carolina attempting to make a fancy dinner and burning the hell out of it. The fire alarm was too loud for me to hear my phone ringing on the couch. It was his cell but it wasnt calling to tell me he was safe.

High School was when we were both healthy and fairly happy. Things were still good now, but tragedy was a big part of our lives. His mother just died of a sudden cardiac arrest, his gym fees were through the roof, and on top of that we had issues paying rent and couldnt move because this was the only place closest to the gym and the coffee shop. When I announced to my parents we were moving to Charlotte together, they practically disowned me. But all in all I was thankful for our lives and especially his. We held each other up when the world brought us down. I prayed every night for the lord to keep giving us what we had. Never again will I do that. I dont believe theres anyone here to help me with what Im going through in heaven or on earth.

Now

Another sip of sickly sweet liquid. More burning in my throat. I wouldnt even go near alcohol before you died. The picture of you in my hand is now old, crinkled and barely recognizable but I remember who and what you were. You were that moment between happiness and self destruction. Bittersweet like a blueberry muffin. The irony of that. Remembering and mourning over you became a weekly ritual. The memories come in shots of color clear as day.

One. Im meeting you for the first time in third grade, our little hands intertwine. I pop a pill in my mouth.

Two. Theres the hallway where you hugged me so hard all of my broken pieces stuck back together. Until now. Sip of vodka.

Three. The fight that killed you was all my fault. All mine. I guess my ego mattered more than your life. More pills.

Four. The voicemail. Hes gone, they said. That one was a lie. Because part of you lived in me. Vodkas gone. Shattered bottle.

Five. I call your phone and it tells me the number doesnt exist. But thats the worst lie Ive been told. It burns my insides or maybe thats the reaction between the drugs and alcohol. I dial the number for the thousandth time. Even drunk I remember your number. Your phone tells me its invalid like you never even existed. What kind of bullshit is that? Phone goes blank. I go blank.

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