Chopping celery was always a frightening task for Cemone. She found it required too much power without enough stability: through her every chop ran a tentative shiver to which she’d never become accustomed.
“Are you cutting celery?”
“Of course I am. Can’t you see me cutting this celery?”
Nolan wrapped himself around his wife and began to inspect the work she had made. He knew of Cemone’s fear of cutting, and felt surprised to see her doing it. “You hate celery,” Nolan said, craning his neck to face hers. “You told me so.”
Cemone kissed Nolan and turned back to her celery. She never minded having Nolan hold her, and at that she thought he would help with her shivers. “I never said that.”
“You said that.”
“You must be mistaken.” Cemone made a courageous chop and found herself shivering against the force of the blow.
“No, remember the Christmas party? You said, ‘I hate celery: it’s too flavorless.’ Then you wrinkled your nose. I
remember because I have a photogenic memory.”
Another chop, and another shiver. “You mean photographic memory.”
“No, whenever I think of you, you look lovely.” Nolan kissed his wife’s neck as she smirked at his remark.
“You’re a flirt.”
“It’s not flirting if we’re married!” he replied. They both knew what would happen next. Whenever Nolan spoke of their marriage he would pick up his wife and spin her around the room. Their union had always surprised him: in his eyes, the fact that she’d said ‘yes’ was a fluke.
“Nolan, I’m holding a knife,” Cemone happily warned.
“Don’t care!” Nolan cried. With a whimsical lack of forethought, he picked his wife up and circled her around the room. The two spun around the small apartment kitchen until Nolan began feeling dizzy, and after Cemone already was. The couple had been married two years, and Cemone had stopped feeling excited about the fact. Unfortunately for her, the same couldn’t be said for Nolan. Almost every day for the past two years, Cemone had returned home to an overly-excited spouse. At first Cemone thought Nolan’s enthusiasm was cute, then she
thought it was annoying, and now she found it oddly adorable.
Nolan couldn’t keep himself calm around his “wife” even though she had known him for three years now. At first, she thought it was part of the honeymoon phase of the marriage, but now that years had passed since their actual honeymoon she knew it was just a surprising new development in his personality. Cemone sometimes wondered who the previous women were in Nolan’s life that couldn’t soak up the copious amounts of love he had to offer. Whomever they were it was their loss, because coming home to a gleeful companion had become an annoying indulgence that was only a single part of her husband’s ravenous affection. Nolan’s love was noticeable in his everything. He loved his wife so much he even loved tangential features of their relationship.
He loved the furniture they bought. He loved their books. He loved the familiar bumps of ribboned steel on his wedding ring. He loved the oblong pearl in Cemone’s wedding ring. He loved the key he used to get home. He loved the tiny apartment they called home. To Nolan they were reminders of his lucky break in her, and simply looking at them made him happy the same way Cemone’s pocket watch made her happy.
“If we’re all done, I’ll be getting back to my celery.” Cemone slowly walked back to her cutting board and attempted to make a final cut of her vegetables, though she planned to wait until her inner ears settled.
“Why are you cutting celery? We both know you hate it. Besides, I can see that you don’t like the sensation.”
“Hate is a strong word—too strong: especially for celery,” Cemone clarified. “I just wanted to cut celery, is that so bad?” she continued. Nolan stepped towards his wife and slipped his arms around her again. “They aren’t our knives. I thought… I thought I would test them out,” Cemone said. Nolan was prepared to ask what she meant by that when he saw a box in the corner of the kitchen. “My dad sent them over. He thought I might like them.”
Nolan was unsure of what the box contained, but he was sure of where it came from. Baltimore. The city’s name was written on the side of the box, along with the word, junk.
“How is Brian?” Nolan asked, attempting to ease into their conversation’s next subject.
“He’s good. The box came with a letter, says the shop is doing well. Well enough, anyway.”
Cemone’s husband reached up her hand and inspected the new knife she had just received: a small, curved blade, with scratches on the side. He twisted her hand to look at the blade’s yellow rubber handle. Nolan smiled at the knife, and then at the cutting board, which he had just realized was also yellow. “She loved yellow, didn’t she?”
“Just like me.” Cemone turned to Nolan and showed him her nostalgic frown. She hardly knew her mother: she’d died when Cemone was just little girl. The few things she did know about her mother was her great height, which Cemone did not inherit, their shared love for science, and her appreciation for the color yellow. Nolan brought her in for a hug. “It’s not anything, really. It’s just sad.”The two held onto each other for some time. Only when Nolan had an interesting thought did they separate.
“You know,” Nolan said as he pulled back, “if you really love yellow, you should’ve cut some pineapple.”
Cemone scoffed as she raised her chopping hand.
“You son of a bitch,” she laughed, as Nolan humorously backed away.
“You’re holding a knife,” he laughed. “Relax.”
“Well you look plenty yellow now, my dear,” Cemone crowed, chasing her husband through the kitchen with the knife in her hand and making petty swipes at him. Nolan made dramatic leaps as Cemone casually swung her blade, giving him cues for when to jump with her every snort and giggle. For half an hour the two happily played Sexy-Sweeny-Todd and Playful-Jack-the-Ripper, before the ring of the kitchen telephone interrupted their game.
Cemone was exhausted from the role-play and in no mind to work when she picked up the pink telephone. “Derobe-Holmes residence,” she answered, half expecting to find a telemarketer. Instead, she heard something much more disruptive: three uniformed beeps—a sign that the Group was meeting. She didn’t know location of the meet, but she knew a good place to start looking.
“I’m sorry, honey,” Cemone told her husband. “I just got the call.”
He grimaced, pulled up his pants, and pulled out the almanac, encyclopedias, and maps.
“How many beeps?” he asked.
Nolan groaned. “Not much time, then.”
“I’m sorry.” Cemone apologized, rushing over while placing her hair in a bun.
“It’s fine…” Nolan rolled over some old maps and began to think of possible locations in the Eastern United States. His finger ran around New York and Philadelphia listlessly. “I just wish I could come with you.”
The two had had this conversation before. It was old enough that when Nolan brought it up Cemone knew better than to argue. She couldn’t find a way of convincing him that the Group was something he had no reason of being jealous of, or that it didn’t say much that he wasn’t invited to join. “Darling, I know it’s a bother.”
“A bother? Cemone, putting on a tie is a bother. Listening to bad music in the car is a bother. Watching your wife leave you for a pretentious mystery group is more than a bother.”
She had opened an encyclopedia and began searching for early landmarks in 90’s history. “You’re upset, I know. But consider it from my view. Dr. Cart indoctrinated me into this group. I can’t just leave with what I know now. Does that map feature any mines?”
Nolan checked if it had. “No. Maybe we can find something online. But, isn’t it strange that I haven’t been invited to join? I’m the Geisha of Columbia! I literally have a name for myself.”
“You hate that name, Nolan.”
“That’s beside the point, and I’ll thank you to respect my duplicity.”