Prompt: "He opened the window"

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Vincent opened the curtains and the window, then lit the burner. It would take a while for the skillet to heat up.

"Can I make you anything?" he asked, "I've got the stuff for eggs, potatoes, and sausage {replace with something more setting-specific?}, or we can do pancakes."

Scarlet smiled and sank onto a stool at the counter. "Will you make pancakes with faces?"

He snorted. "I'm a little old for that, but if it's what you want."

He got out his mixing pitcher and combined the sour milk [sweet syrup evocative of setting] and oil, then added the leaven and flour. He was careful not to over-mix it.

Then he felt her behind him, hand on his back, looking over his shoulder as he poured. His hands shook and he messed up the face. He set the pitcher down on the cracked tile counter.

"I'm out of practice."

"It'll taste fine."

Vincent chuckled. "Let's hope so. I haven't made pancakes in years, so I may have botched the recipe."

She stepped up beside him and looked at the skillet. Bubbles were already forming and rising to the surface.

"Mind if I go take a shower? I haven't had one in years, you know." She laughed. "I probably smell like a tomb." She just kept laughing.

Vincent blinked back tears and turned to face away as he flipped the pancake. "Sure," he said, "It'll take a while for me to get enough pancakes cooked anyway, having to do them one at a time like this." He directed her to the water closet {is that even the right term?} by the bedroom—the only one in the apartment. At least they had hot running water through the building's shared water boiler. At this time of night there should be plenty of it, too. Sometimes in the morning or evening too many of the residents bathed at once and the water would be cold, either from the start or turn cold in the middle of his shower. Now that Scarlet was here, that might not be such a bad thing either.

Vincent cooked cake after cake and put them on plates until he ran out of batter. He'd made just enough for two people, with a few extras in case one of them was especially hungry. The original recipe, copied down from a [brand name] flour sack served twelve, the average household size in [country name]. Grandparents, parents, five kids, and the cook. No one grudged their cook the cakes—they were so cheap to make—though he might not be allowed to slather his serving in butter and sweet sugary syrup.

At last he heard the shower shut off. He spread the butter and poured the syrup. He cut his plateful into bite-sized pieces and tossed them so that the syrup evenly coated them. He debated doing the same for hers, to pass the time, but she popped out of the [water closet] in a towel.

"You have anything I can wear?"Her hair was wet. It looked darker than usual, and nearly straight, extending past her bare shoulders and over the towel. Vincent blinked and glanced down at his pancakes. It seemed so juvenile.

"I should have some clean shirts and stuff in the dresser," he said pointing, he hoped, toward the bedroom. He didn't actually look up. He couldn't.

Five minutes later, when their pancakes were nearly cold, Scarlet emerged from the bedroom in a [description] shirt and his sweatpants, which dwarfed her. She'd cinched them at the waist to keep them up.

"You've gotten bigger," she said, sitting down at the counter beside him. "We used to be the same size."

He nodded and took a bite to give himself time to think. What was he supposed to say? Finally, he thought of something. "We'll have to get you something else to wear. Something less..."

"Less like what I used to wear," she said, "Before."

He nodded. "Exactly."

All through their meal, he watched her eating with her left hand and using her right thumb to chip off the red nail polish on the same hand.


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