After the criminal, medical and other specialists were done with him, they gave many a varying diagnosis. However, the comedians, seeing through it all, would forever just call him crazy.
It had not always been there; the old one didn’t match the new kitchen and had to be replaced. It looked to be made of the same stuff as the rest of the kitchen and all of one piece with the floor, the wall and the counter top surrounding it. A dark almost black marble shined to perfection. She was not sure if it was actually made of marble, she never heard of an oven made completely of the stuff. She could never bring herself to cook on the thing. It looked too…pristine, like something sacred.
So many new things, so much to get used to.
He had been acting strangely. His statements, his facial expressions, even his walk; all very noticeably changed. She had heard it happened like that sometimes. A new job, new location and new money. When she revealed another change to him, he took to calling it her “condition”. That was when these new changes first began. His fervently voiced declarations of love for her, his insistence that they belonged together, that they were destined.
“Just the two of us.”
That was how he always ended each statement.
Another change. He had a grocery bag in each arm and a smile on his lips. He had always preferred to eat out or order in. He sat the bags down and whistled as he began to pull out small containers and line them onto the counter. Small vials of spices she had never heard of with obscure hand written labels.
“Rare spices,” he said cheerily. He then began to pull out various greens and two loaves of bread as well as some more recognizable jars. “I got something very special planned for you, for just the two of us, when you return from the hospital.” An odd gleam shined in his eyes as he said it making him appear ecstatic and at the same time…hungry. That was the best word she could think of. She gave him a smile.
“Honey,” she said, “You know you don’t have to cook for me. I can always have my food prepared and delivered from that place that the hospital recommended.”
He leaned over where she was sitting and kissed her gently onto the forehead. “I could never share you,” a pause. “You know that right?” He asked softly.
She almost flinched from that intense gaze. He had been saying odd things like that lately and she still did not know how to take it. He leaned in again and kissed her once more on the cheek before turning and heading up the stairs.
She stared after him for a moment. Even before her “condition”, it was a long time since things had been as they used to be. He was happy again, romantic again (although that usually only left frustration in its wake), he would sing in the shower and kiss her each morning on rising and each night before bed.
He also began to develop a thing for cooking. He had yet to prepare anything that she could see. It was as if he was just filling his head with the knowledge waiting for the right moment to loose a culinary masterpiece upon the world.
Bringing herself back from reverie, she started to feel a familiar ache in her stomach and in her back. With a sigh she went to the living room and lay back onto the couch, thinking.
She did not know that she slept until her eyes opened. She couldn’t say what had awakened her, but she had a faint recollection of sound, more like an impression of a sound, just beyond hearing.
There it was again, something distant, like an infant’s cry. She could not pinpoint where it was coming from. She moved towards the kitchen. The oven was off and the smell of something sweet and somewhat burnt permeated the air. Impossibly, the nearer she got to the oven the louder the cries became. An incessant wailing that caused her to shiver with each outburst. She thought that she must have still been dreaming.
An eerie glow pulsed from within the oven as if the inside light was on, but muted somehow. She inched closer.
Abruptly, the cries stopped. Inside of the oven turning on a modern spit, set between the grills was a golden brown…something. It turned slowly, dripping juices into an aluminum pan underneath. Steam and the accompanying sizzle that rose every time a bit of that juice hit the metal surface shrouded the object a bit.
She peered closer and the smoke thickened until all she could see was a clear reflection of the dining area behind her, as if she wasn’t standing in its direct path. At first, it was just as foggy as the smoke behind it but she stared and moved forward until she was almost nose-to-nose with it.
She could make out two people at opposite ends of the table. She and her husband. She looked dazed, drugged up, slick with blood, sweat and fluids. He, with a smile showing all teeth, cut into something in the middle of the table with joy and obvious delight. Half humming half singing an unrecognizable tune.
She screamed in shock as the comprehension of what she saw registered.
She woke to a sodden mess extending from between her legs dampening the cushions of the couch. Her husband was there, smiling.
“Your water broke while you were asleep, I’ve already called the ambulance. Just be still until they get here. Just like we practiced” He paused and looked at her oddly for a minute, then smiled an odd smile. “I can’t wait until we can bring the baby home, and you too. I got something really special planned for us,” he paused again before adding, “Just the two of us.”