Burnt Cookies And Quiet Despair

Trigger warning: domestic abuse

My mom and I like burnt cookies.

Those that get so hard you can barely bite them, those that you need to soak in coffee for a bit.

We also ask for the baguettes that are on the bottom of the pile, those that are too burnt to be on display, and we laugh to ourselves when we say to the lady at our local bakery, “Can I have the really crispy ones? Yes, those at the bottom.”

Because we know, and they know.

My mom and I like to share slices of fresh cheese and drive around, singing out loud with the windows rolled down. There’s safety on being on the go; there’s safety by being next to one another.

My mom and I both feel things like bricks and we barely know the difference between love and pain.

She cries in silence and I cry out loud. She anxiously passes while I stand still. We both often wonder how we got here. Sometimes I look at her and see a kid, just as scared as I am.

My mom took up baking around the time my dad ticked all the boxes in the AA self-assessment test, around the time I wondered if abuse was really happening to us. When banging doors and uncertain nights were the rule, and home wasn’t anything else but a punishment.

Despair looks like quiet mornings in fear of what’s going to happen next, and it smells like ethanol when you are kissed goodnight. It sounds like a car driving off abruptly after a couple of shouts going back and forth upstairs; it sounds like a cold slap while you finish your math homework downstairs.

Life got so heavy.

But the cookies were always sweet, a bit burnt, a bit hard. But sweet—a lot sweeter when enjoyed together.