A Spoon Full of Sugar

I found it in his gray suit coat while doing some cleaning. It was in a white marbled box tucked in his coat pocket. I knew it was meant to be a surprise, but I couldn’t help my fingers from sliding the lid off the box. Inside, nestled between synthetic cotton and tissue paper, was a hand carved wooden spoon with intricate designs etched in the handle. Welsh love spoons are traditional gifts for couples courting to display their love and affection. I smiled, remembering when I had spotted it in the window of the antique shop on main street. We had been walking to our car from dinner when I pointed it out to him in passing, commenting on what a cute tradition that was. I was surprised that he remembered.
Resisting the urge to stare at it all day, I placed everything back in its proper spot and headed to the kitchen to start making dinner. I practiced a surprised face and how I would clutch my hand to my chest while I opened the box, but my acting was forced at best. If he recognized my antics, I would have to explain my discovery. But even then, the moment would still be romantic. I pulled out a grease splattered cookbook and flipped through the pages till I found the recipe for chicken romesco, a gourmet alternative to my planned menu of Chinese take-out. If I hurried, I might even have time to make his favorite blueberry pie.
The next few hours proved to be less successful than I hoped. The kitchen was a scattered mess with tomato sauce dripping on the stovetop and flour dusting the floor. The chicken was dry, and the pie filling a little too thick, but I was still smiling. I rushed upstairs to slip on my favorite chiffon dress that he gave me years ago. The zipper was tight, and I was slowly inching it to the neckline when I heard the front door shut and footsteps on the stairs. I only reached the middle of my back when he entered.
“Oh, hi honey. Playing dress-up today?”
“I figured it would be fun to have a nice dinner tonight, don’t you think?”
“Oh ya, I forgot to call you. We’re way behind on our data analysis, so I’m gonna need to go back to the office and finish it tonight.”
“Oh, well dinner is ready so you can go back once you’ve eaten.”
“I really have to head back. Plus, Derek ordered some take-out for the team.” He threw his blue coat over his armchair and grabbed the gray one from the closet. “I just came home to grab a new suitcoat. I spilled my lunch on the blue one today.” He kissed me on the cheek on his way out the door. “I might be really late tonight so don’t wait up for me!” The echo of the front door shutting announced his absence, and I was left standing with my dress half-zipped.
It was all part of the surprise, I told myself. He was about to walk back in the door any minute, give me the box, and we would have a romantic evening and laugh between sips of wine. I started counting. Once I reached one hundred, he would be back. All was well, it was part of the plan.
One, two, three... I walked to the armchair and looked at his crumpled blue coat.
Twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven... I couldn’t find any stains; it was clean.
Thirty-nine, forty, forty-one... If he was just doing data analysis, why would he need the coat?
Sixty-two, sixty-three, sixty-four... This wasn’t the first late night; they’d been happening more lately.
Seventy-eight, seventy-nine, eighty... Should I wait for him? Do I deserve this?
Eighty-four, eighty-five, eighty-six... No. He’s lying. I’ve felt it on the edge for weeks.

Ninety-one, ninety-two, ninety-three... Was I so naïve to take this? Was I so weak? No. When I get to one hundred, I’m done. I’m leaving.
Ninety-eight, ninety-nine... one.