The first makes me eggs while I am still in high school, but they are perfect. I lean on the counter and watch him while he works. He shares my smile and DNA, and dies at 24.
The second does it while playing music from a phone propped up on a kitchen counter. It’s always too loud, and I never like the choice of band. He wears jeans, has dark eyes. Sometimes in the kitchen, he sings along; sometimes just bobs his head. He uses a skillet and a turner and almost every omelet ends up a bit overdone or broken. He learns to do scrambled well, doesn’t make hard-boiled or fried. When he makes them, he pulls the wastebasket out next to counter for the shells, forgets and leaves it there. I vacate the kitchen while he’s cooking, come along behind to clean up in his wake. He dies when I still love him, just steps outside that kitchen door.
Three lets the boy help, makes them scrambled, slightly soft, like he learned from his family. Uses butter and cast iron, makes them because yesterday was my turn. He wears a white t-shirt and pajama pants and smiles often, and a year after he’s stopped speaking to me, I will still worry about him enough to send out prayers to the universe for his wellbeing, worry about him enough to sometimes dream his face.
Four makes me eggs for dinner in his kitchen after mini golf and a round of ice cream and beer floats, asks me to cut the peppers while he preps. It’s my first time there. He pulls smoked salmon and spinach from the fridge, the same shopping habits as mine. Cracks the eggs into a glass Pyrex, stirs while the skillet preheats. We move around the space out of sync, cannot find a rhythm. He waits until dinner is over and I’ve said I need to go before telling me he’s not ready for this, any kind of romantic entanglement. He pauses before doing so, as if afraid of hurting my feelings, walks me to my car and hugs me goodbye.
But I’ve already grieved that first one, and grieved too that second, broke, finally, on the third. Have relearned how to move around easily in my own spaces, make my own eggs, soft and hard-boiled, fried and over easy too. I’ve scrambled, and I’ve turned over sides smoothly with spatula, baked, too, in oven, in pie or muffin tins, cooked them even with hashbrowns and cheese and bacon in crockpot. Made my own eggs. Made them any way I liked. Made them just for me. Made, if I am honest, no room in either that kitchen or myself for anyone else.
So this time, on this drive home in the dark, I don’t feel anything, anything at all.
Except, perhaps, full.