Melissa sat in the living room, scrolling through her phone. She opened a new tab on her browser, and her stomach rumbled.
“Rubin? You almost done in there hon, I’m starved?”
Through the sliding door, she heard a pan hit the floor. It made the waving sound of a round thing spinning – it was likely the wok, she thought – and sped up until it finally came to a halt. Not a sound from her boyfriend.
“Rubin? Are you okay in there?” she called a bit louder.
A moment later, a stressed voice came back, “Yup!”
“Kay, let me know if you need anything,” Melissa went back to her phone, scrolling and scrolling, considering a snack to tide her over even though Rubin had forbid it, saying it would spoil his surprise. Her stomach grumbled again. Then the fire alarm went off in the kitchen.
“Rube? Honey? Are you sure you don’t need a hand?” she sat waiting, but the only response was the incessant bleeting of the fire alarm. She pushed herself off the sofa and walked over to the door.
Sliding it to the right, Melissa found a disaster zone. Aside from the wok on the floor, the kitchen faucet poured water onto pasta and broken shards of a glass pot; a pan on the stove was on fire, the vegetables inside now charred stumps; and her boyfriend sat at the kitchen table, in tears, carefully slicing at the sides of a hunk of cheese.
“What the hell is happening here?” Melissa said.
Rubin looked up, horrified. “You weren’t supposed to come in!” he replied. “The cheese is moldy. It’s going to ruin dinner.”
Melissa stood staring as he slowly, methodically sliced off little bits of mold while the fire alarm blared.