Sometimes fiction and reality meet and blend and wax poetic. I guess there’s an entire genre: creative nonfiction. Here’s mine.
Making Fudge in a Copper-Bottomed Pan
You don’t have many memories of your father. Each passing year seems to remove another fragment of memory. What you do remember is fudge.
Sugar, cocoa, and salt in the copper-bottomed pan, add milk. Stir. Bring to a boil. You’d be standing on a stepstool, watching him stir. He’d be humming something, maybe Carmen, because that’s the production the school was doing, and you’d both watch the alchemy in the pan as the temperature reach 234. 234, a magical number!
Vanilla, butter—do not stir. Cool. Beat. Spread in a pan. Wait. Wait. Wait.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“A writer. More than anything else in the world.”
In three more months, you’ll be a month older than he was when he died. The last of his children to reach that point. A sad achievement, you think, knowing that more than anything else you wish you could have made fudge as adults, talked about philosophy and music, and what it was like to be a kid in Kansas and dodge tornadoes, who his heroes were and who his folks were, and whether he ever achieved his dreams and more, more, more.
You tuck yourself into bed, ask Alexa to play Habanera, and decide tomorrow will be a day for making fudge in an inherited copper-bottomed pan. And, maybe you’ll write about it, because that’s something that’s never changed, and you’ll think about him and consider all of the “what ifs” that could never be. And, maybe when you’re done, you’ll light a candle as Carmen plays and remember being that child watching her dad conduct beautiful voices and drift into dreams where “what ifs” never matter at all.
Appropriately enough, Google tells me that today would have been Montserrat Caballé’s 89th birthday. So it seems only fitting to add her Habanera.
And, Elina Garanca who many currently say is the best Carmen.