Knots grow into the muscles of her shoulders. Knots tense up the muscles near her shoulder blades. Her biceps ache in the middle of the night. Frequently she awakens, in the darkened room, while he is breathing deeply beside her, and feels muscle after muscle tighten and ease. She is not an athlete. Exercise is loathsome to her. Her home is neat but little energy is expended on the heavy labor of cleaning. Cooking is her love and her hobby.
Morning light arrives and her first thoughts are of the evening meal. Rustling through printed recipes, online cooking sites and food magazines consume her morning.
Hopping into her car, she stuffs the marketing list into her pocket. A short drive later, she parks and enters the corner grocery store. Her path is a well- learned routine; first, she travels down the left side of the market to browse the imported meats and cheeses. She never buys the processed meats, but the urge to peruse is strong.
Making a right turn around the bread display, she sights the eggs and butter and she deftly grabs the dairy items necessary for her evening meal. Cautiously avoiding the center aisles of canned, frozen and dried goods, she arrives at the fresh meat and seafood counter. She surveys the selection of meats, chicken parts, and fish. After making her choices, she continues around a right turn into the produce section, her favorite. Carefully she selects the freshest foods from the produce aisle. The colors cause a smile to spread across her face. The aromatic lure of the herbs tickles her nostrils.
A short drive home and she carries the bags up the stairs to the kitchen. Each time she enters the kitchen she feels inspired by the warm cherry cabinetry and the deep purple hues of the imported granite counter tops. She gently empties the bags. Tenderly she washes the fresh food, stores the dairy food in the refrigerator, and begins to conduct the orchestra of flavors for the evening meal.
Turning up the music, she engages the rhythms from the radio with the chopping, stirring and mixing of the ingredients. The radiant heat from the oven comforts her with each pass in front of it. The warmth from the burners on the stove beckons her to move closer to watch the flames dance underneath the pots.
After a while, a soothing aroma fills the kitchen space. A heartily spicy aroma created by her cooking dances into the air and floats out the window releasing itself to the neighborhood. The onions, garlic, celery, and red and yellow peppers dance around in the pot. Sizzling and bubbling butter swirl into the mixture.
A healthy dose of white wine sings out as she pours it. Next, the color, the deep red color of life is added with the crushed tomatoes. As she stirs, she sways with the waves of the simmering vegetables. Finally, the accent notes are added–a handful of chopped basil, a dash of thyme, and a good strong shake of dried red peppers.
Turning the flame down to a simmer, she turns her attention to the pasta. Ah, the pasta, dried and stiff soon to be softened by a bath of hot water. Over high flames, she brings the water to a boil. The bubbles rise to the top of the pot as she pours in the dry pasta. They sink to the bottom, and then float nearer the top, repeatedly like small gymnasts until they soften.
The table is set with large purple pasta bowls and forks. The warmed crusty bread from the oven adds a pleasant scent to the already heavenly atmosphere. She wraps it in a towel and places it delicately on the table.
Hearing his footsteps coming up the stairs, she drains the softened pasta. She carries the heavy pot of sauce to the table. After pouring the pasta into a red floral bowl, it also joins the composition gracing the dining table.
He enters the room and takes his seat. She begins to serve. A knot seizes her shoulder. Another knot seizes her neck. Muscle after muscle begins to tighten and ease in a painful seesaw motion. She is not an athlete. She loathes exercise.
After the meal, he retreats to his study. She stands over the dirty dishes at the sink. The knots begin to fade. The music fills her ears again. The knot of an unhappy marriage tightens when he is near. It fades when he moves away, and she knows that these are the knots of her marriage coming undone.