Johnny sat at the table, sipping his tea. He was waiting for Gheorghe to come join him. He felt strange being in the house without Dad or Nan; they were always there. However, he was enjoying this time alone with Gheorghe.
Of course, he was worried about his dad being in the hospital, but at the same time, it was nice just to be with Gheorghe. They took care of the animals and did all the farm work, and then they shared all their meals; Johnny learned Gheorghe was a good cook. They even shared their cigarette while taking a bath, and then they fell into bed together. He never thought he would like sharing a bed with someone, but he liked sleeping all tangled up in Gheorghe in his tiny bed. All this togetherness didn’t grate on his nerves like he always thought it would. He just really enjoyed Gheorghe’s company.
Gheorghe came out of the kitchen with his own mug of tea and his sheep’s milk cheese wrapped in Nan’s best tea towel. She would not be happy about that when she came home, Johnny thought. He watched raptly as Gheorghe unwrapped the cheese and spread a very large dollop on his bread. He took a big bite, clearly enjoying the taste of his cheese.
Johnny was curious. There was butter on the table for his bread, but he decided to try the cheese. Picking up the spoon, he gathered a small amount and mashed it on the corner of his bread. He lifted the bread to his nose, smelling it before taking a bite. It had a slight tangy smell. He hesitated a moment before putting it in his mouth. A rich, creamy flavor exploded on his tongue, and it had a subtle sweetness too.
He chewed the bread and cheese thoroughly, aware of Gheorghe’s eyes on him and the questioning look on his face. He eagerly reached for the spoon and covered the entire piece of bread with Gheorghe’s delicious cheese. He was glad he had tried the cheese because it made Gheorghe happy. He found himself thinking of ways to make Gheorghe happy several times over the last few days. He felt this warm feeling in his chest every time Gheorghe smiled at him. He wanted Gheorghe to always smile around him. If Nan complained about her good tea towel being ruined, then Johnny would buy her a new one. He didn’t want Gheorghe to feel unwanted in the house or discourage him to stop making the cheese. He wanted Gheorghe to keep smiling and be happy on the farm.
Johnny licked his fingers enthusiastically while grinning like a loon. He saw a similar smile on Gheorghe’s face. He also saw Gheorghe’s look of approval. He knew Gheorghe was trying to get him to slow down and savor his food, and he was glad Johnny was obviously enjoying his breakfast.
With Gheorghe by his side, Johnny didn’t feel like he had to rush his eating. It was no longer a chore or just something he had to do. Eating with Gheorghe became something to enjoy, something to linger over, something to savor because now food had flavor. It was no longer bland or boring like his life before Gheorghe arrived at the farm. Living with Gheorghe and working side by side had brought a quiet contentment to Johnny’s life. Their few days alone had offered Johnny a glimpse of the future. A future that held a lot of hard work but also joy and peace as long as he had Gheorghe by his side.
As he continued to eat his breakfast, he watched Gheorghe finish his first piece of bread, smiling softly the entire time. Johnny felt an answering smile on his face. It was a new feeling, being this content just by sharing the same space with someone. He wanted to keep feeling this new emotion.
So, Johnny hoped Gheorghe would continue to make his sheep’s milk cheese for a very long time. It was true that he wanted to eat it every day, but it would also mean Gheorghe being here with him every day. He definitely wanted Gheorghe to stay and not just for the cheese.