This story contains a recipe to make chocolate brownies. Try it!
“I”m pregnant again”.
I was measuring flour into the sieve and gently banging it against the heel of my hand. He was hunched over the computer. Checking the weather again. He seemed to find it reassuring.
“Yes I am.”
“Fuck … how did that happen?”
“How do you think?”
I didn’t look at his face. The flour was so endlessly soft and white. Full of a flat, fat, sort of light. I sank my hands into it and felt its silent silken gentleness, again and again. I could bathe in it. Perhaps drown. Gently. Peacefully.
He sighed. “How long gone?”
“I”d say six weeks, almost to the day.”
That was easily worked out. Sex was scarce. We have two young boys under three and I’ve been up to my nipples in nappies and night feeds for aeons.
“Shite, what are we going to do?”
“More of the same. Only more of it. More wiping and washing. More whining and wailing. More gnawing and gnashing. More work. Simple really.”
I was pouring the sugar in now. A frightening amount considering we’d eat most of it immediately. But food, and cake in particular, was one of the few pleasures left to us that we weren’t too tired to enjoy. And God knows, we needed the energy. I added in the baking powder and a little cinnamon for good luck. Then I reached for the pot and the Pyrex bowl.
“I thought we were finished?”
“Did you? Well. so did I. But your sperm had other ideas.”
“It’s not my fault” he said turning round and belting his dressing gown tightly. He looked old and tired.
It felt like we’d both aged ten years in three. I placed the Pyrex bowl over the simmering water, added the butter and broke the chocolate up into it, inhaling deeply. I loved that rich, dark, smell. Like coffee only better, less disappointing. I got the eggs from the counter top and cracked them into a jug. Whisking vigourously until they bubbled and foamed.
“Of course it’s not your fault. It’s mine. Just like everything else.” I was tearful and angry and tired too. “Load it on wifey.”
I added the eggs to the flour and spiced sugar, mixed briskly and moved over to stir the chocolate and butter. Nicely smoothly melted now. I was tempted to dip my finger in but it was still too hot. I turned off the gas and left the bowl to one side to cool. He was saying something else.
“I didn’t mean it like that … sorry, I’m a bit shocked. I really thought that was it…”
“So you said. Well, I didn’t think I could again. Not so quickly. Not while I’m still feeding.”
I didn’t think. And I should have been more careful but … I was just so tired. It seemed incredible that anything so vital should come from such a rare, and listless event. I poured the chocolate over the flour, sugar and eggs and stirred rhythmically, slowly, first one way then the other. Always folding, folding, folding. I loved the way the mixture changed then, became a glossy gloopy sable coloured mass, moving indolently as I nudged it into the lined tray.
“We’re going to need help.” I said. I slid the tray into the hot oven (150). 15 mins and they would be done.
“Where are we going to get it? We can’t afford to pay. And our families are out.”
They were. Mine were too busy living their own lives. They disapproved of me having the two boys so quickly. And part of the punishment was leaving me to it. His were just too old. He was the youngest of nine. His parents had had their fill. I could smell the brownies now, the chocolate scent filling the air and making everything seem a little brighter.
A little richer. A little better.
“They smell good. Are they ready yet? I’ll make the tea?”
He put his arms around me. “We’ll be allright, one more won’t kill us. And it might be a girl?”
I wiped my nose on his shoulder and leaned against him for a while. I thought about that maybe daughter. Then I turned to open the oven.
“Just let them cool for five minutes.” I patted the top lightly. Perfect. There was still a slight wobble and the surface had a deliciously cracked crispyness. It was a good recipe. It always worked out right. Some things just do.
225g of dark chocolate (Whittakers 72% is best)
225g of butter
325g of sugar
150g of flour
Heat the butter on a medium, when bubbling, take it off the heat, break up the chocolate and leave to melt and cool slightly. (3 mins)
While it is melting, whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl until frothy. (2 mins)
Add in the flour, mix, add the chocolate mixture, mix again until well blended.
Pour into a lined slice tin and place in the middle of the oven for 15 mins. Check and take out while there’s still a wobble in the middle, put on a wire rack and leave to cool. (15mins).
Slice as you like, should make 16.