Every so often, there will come along a very ordinary moment in the midst of a very ordinary day. A moment where seemingly nothing happens, but it is infused with comfort and a strong sense of being alive in that instant. There’s no telling when or why it happens, but the memory of it will stay alive in you, warm and cosy, for the next decade.
The sun has set. It’s dreary outside, typical London grey. Your work for the day is done, and you’re feeling quite accomplished for once; the incessant critical voices in your head give you a break for the day. You’re starting to get hungry, but you’re too lazy to make dinner. Maybe we’ll get takeaway once S. comes back home, you think. You sink into the sofa and continue the next episode of The Files of Young Kindaichi. The show is nearing its end, and you idly consider which show you should watch next.
You’re halfway through an episode, watching the teen genius protagonist get rescued by a friend who brings along some cup ramen. They sit down to eat together, and the craving leaps out from behind the TV and strikes you hard. You pause the episode. There is a momentary hesitation at the sight of the darkness outside. But you quickly slip into a jacket and step out, taking only your wallet and keys with you. You grimace as the cold hits you the moment you leave the warmth of the building, but you shove your hands deep into your jacket and push forward.
A warm red glow welcomes you into the store, and you hurriedly walk down the aisles until you reach the instant noodles section. There’s a chilli soba one that sounds delicious, but the warning sticks out in bold. May contain: celery, crustaceans, fish, milk, molluscs, mustard, sesame. Crustaceans, ugh. You’re not sure you want to risk a reaction. There are a lot of other … interesting flavours. Doner Kebab. Bombay Bad Boy. Katsu Curry. You stick to the classic Chicken and Mushroom. It’s not a day for experiments. As you make your way to the cashier, a pack of dumplings grabs you. Cup ramen by itself is not a filling meal, you decide. You check out. One cup ramen. One pack of dumplings.
Once home, it takes but a few minutes for your kettle to whistle away. Boiling water goes into the noodles. And some more into a pot with the dumplings. Yes, you boil your dumplings. It’s perfectly acceptable to do that; it says so right on the packet. You look inside your fridge while the two cook away. There are some eggs and spring onions. Perfect. Five minutes later, your bowl looks amazing with the noodles, the dumplings arranged carefully in a semicircle, the omelette on top, and the spring onions sprinkled over it all. Some sesame seeds for aesthetics, and you’re done.
You carefully bring the bowl to the sofa. Kindaichi Hajime is paused with the noodles halfway to his mouth. You click play and take your first bite. The dish is a comforting hug, warming you from the inside out. You sigh contentedly and carry on with the show. Your bowl is almost half empty when you suddenly pause and run to the trash can. You fish out the empty ramen packet and reread the ingredients. Because you’re paranoid like that. Satisfied that there’s nothing in there that will attempt to kill you, you come back and continue your meal. The episode ends with Hajime pointing out the killer, and you drink up the last bit of broth.
As if waiting for that exact, perfect moment, the door clicks open just then, and S. walks in. You wave hello, all content and happy, and then, your eyes widen.
“Oh, I already had dinner. I forgot about you, sorry.”