A Carnal Knowledge of Cereal

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

Cereal. It’s the perfect companion to the afterglow of a carnal embrace. First, there’s the reaching into the refrigerator for the milk with an elevated heart rate. Then there’s the gathering of the bowl and spoon with a shaky hand. Next is the gallant tumble of the cereal itself from its slightly upturned box while one bead of love sweat runs down your skin beneath a rumpled shirt. And after that, there’s that reckless cascade of white liquid from the carton or jug as you try to catch your breath. And at last, there is that thrust of the silver tool that will eagerly deliver your very first bite.
I like to sit in a comfortable armchair situated near a big picture window that overlooks the square as I cradle the bowl and eat. I bask in lascivious thoughts as the cold milk and crunch repeatedly crosses the threshold of my mouth. I can hear the chewing in my own head, rhythmically tapping like the silver balls of a desktop Newton’s cradle.
As the dying sun collides with the birth of a new night of stars, the square below glows a faded purple. Car after car after car reverses from its diagonal space and goes off into the void, the people inside trying to find their places in the brutal world. A woman with tousled hair and an ass packed tight in zodiac leggings crosses before me and takes refuge in the other chair. She stares into the glow of her phone, beautiful and sticky and smelling of love.
“What kind of cereal are you having?” she asks without looking at me.
“Corn Pops.”
“Oh. Fancy.” She pauses. “That was hot.”
“What’s that?”
“Earlier. Baby.” She looks over at me and mimics a kiss.
“Yes, it was… Did you know that they used to call them Sugar Corn Pops.”
“What?”
“Corn Pops. They used to be called Sugar Corn Pops.”
“Your mind drifts to strange places. How do you go from sex to cereal and back again?” she wonders aloud.
“I suppose they figured the word ‘sugar’ had a negative connotation,” I say. “I suppose some marketing dildo who makes $200,000 a year came up with that one.”
“Why do you worry about that?”
“Worry about what?”
“Money, and what other people do and have.”
I think about it, then tilt my cereal bowl to drain the last of the milk and set it aside. “I guess I’m just hung up on perfection. Like a wet winter coat on a mudroom peg.”
“Baby. Perfection isn’t found in things or money. Perfection is found in the simple, meaningful moments.”
I look over at her there in the chair before the big window framing nightglow. “Like our love?”
“Like our beyond beyond love,” she says.
After a brief fissure of silence I ask her what time it is.
“11:02,” she answers with a yawn. “Are you ready for bed?”
“I’ll be there in a little bit.”
She rises from the chair, leans down and kisses me with purpose. Her lips are wet and scented from the grape-flavored water she always drinks.
“I love you,” she affirms. “Believe in that.”
“I love you, too. I really do.”
She looks down at me, smiles and presses her warm lips against my forehead. “I know you do,” she whispers.
I turn to watch her walk away, through the low glow of a long, narrow kitchen and into the darkness of the back bedroom that swallows her up.
I get up out of the chair and take my emptied bowl to the kitchen sink and rinse it out. I walk back over to the big window and look down upon the vacant square. The gray, cold stone of a courthouse reflects fear and loneliness. The empty and silent street reminds me of a dark corner in Heaven. And even with all that, I know if I am careful with her heart, I will never be alone again.