I cook them french toast because it’s the only way they’ll eat eggs. Because it’s the only protein I can afford now. I do my best to prepare a proper meal for them every morning; try to set a good example about how important breakfast is. That it doesn’t always consist of pastries with fruit filling or soft chocolate cookies like their mom gives them.
The two boys sit at the table while I cook playing with their Lego creations until it turns into a fight over whose pieces are whose. My oldest uses a tone of voice I always heard in his mother and my youngest whines in a pitch that gets under my skin. I yell at them in an explosion of profanities and immediately see the damage. I look into my oldest’s eyes and see him holding back the tears. I want to tell him I’m sorry and that it’s okay to cry. That it’s all I’ve been doing since their Mom and I split. But I don’t. He doesn’t either. We both pretend to be strong. I look at them both and see their mother in them. See her mannerisms in them too and I hate it. Hate it even more that everything I dislike about myself is in there too. I want to tell them that that’s the reason I yelled: I don’t want them to be anything like us.
I cut the french toast into cubes, pour sugar-free syrup, and place the plates down in front of them. They eat it up, quickly forgetting my tantrum. I look down at the frying pan; contemplate placing the palm of my hand down into it so I can feel something else than like I’m always failing.
Adam Petrash is a writer, poet, and journalist, and the author of the novella, The Ones to Make it Through (Phantom Paper Press 2015). He's written articles, book reviews, and interviews for Canstar Community News, Drums Etc Magazine, The Uniter, The Winnipeg Free Press, and The Winnipeg Review. His fiction has appeared in journals such as Luna Luna Magazine and Whiskeypaper, and his poems in Lemon Hound. He lives and writes in Winnipeg.