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Sunday Morning

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The beeping of the alarm clock wakes him and makes Carla groan. A half-hearted slap to the right makes the dark bedroom settle into blissful quiet again.

“Urgh.”

Or not.

“Why is that damn thing always on? It’s Sunday, Simon. No radio stations to man today, if I may remind you.”

Simon feels too disorientated to answer by speaking, so he grunts in acknowledgement and rolls out of bed, accompanied by Carla’s resigned sigh. Simon bows down to press a kiss to the part of her head that’s not buried underneath the blanket.

“You’re too good of a guy sometimes,” she tells him when he shuffles to the door.

“R’ly?” he replies, tongue still feeling sticky from his sleeping with an open mouth the whole night as usual.

Carla hums and turns around to regard him. The part of her mouth that’s visible turns up in a smile. “You’re an awesome dad, y’know.”

“I’m happy to hear that,” Simon says earnestly, but when Carla chuckles, he registers that it sounded more like “m’appy teer add”, which shows a frightening similarity to the strange phrasings the twins come up with to butcher “bon appetit”.

The last sacrilegious candidate had been “osteoporosis”. He had needed two hours and an in-depth Google-search to get behind it. Bone atrophy. Simon had tried in vain to remember if he had done similar nonsense in his childhood, and then researched other variants to surprise them with when they least expected it. So far, he hadn’t had the opportunity to do so.

“However,” Carla continues, faceplanting in Simon’s pillow while speaking, “being a great dad does not mean you have to set your alarm clock every single day. Teenagers want to sleep, too. They’re not seven anymore, thank God. You have all the time in the world.”

She’s right, but today is Sunday. And Sunday means self-made waffles for breakfast.

Simon tells her this, and other than another sigh and a “Hunter won’t die if there aren’t waffles for breakfast for once”, she doesn’t try to hold him back.

Satisfied, Simon leaves the bedroom and closes the door behind him as quietly as he can.

Loose sheets of math homework greet him when he turns on the light in the kitchen, answers angrily crossed out, almost viciously scratched off the paper. Simon frowns. Later, he tells himself and gathers the papers to put them on the living room table for the time being. First breakfast, then drama and tantrums and frustration.

Even though he knows the recipe by heart from years and years of use, he still opens the cookbook. Simply out of habit, he figures. And also because he never quite remembers how many cups of flour he has to use.

Mixing the dough and heating the waffle iron feels like he’s falling into a trance of absolute comfort and domesticity.

In a few minutes he will wake his children and they will cheer and crow over the sweet breakfast food, and then his wife will join them, give them all good-morning kisses, smelling like the mints she chews on to combat the morning breath like she always does. Then, Izzy and Hunter will commit a crime to the English language, and Izzy will choose her cupcake flavor of the week, because Hunter loves waffles, but Izzy likes cupcakes more, and Simon will do his best to replicate the taste with anything he has left in the kitchen, no matter how weird-tasting they turn out in the end.

A warm feeling rises behind his sternum, and for a few seconds he is so overwhelmed with love for his little family that he puts the ladle aside and presses a hand against his chest. It feels like he’s chugging hot tea (without burning his mouth in the process).

Keeping that thought in the back of his mind to maybe write about it later, he picks up the ladle again and shovels the first portion of dough onto the waffle iron.

Because Simon is a sappy schmuck, he lights a few candles on the cupboards and on the kitchen table, because he is a man of atmosphere and what’s better for that than candles? It’s not quite time to get out Carla’s beloved reindeer candleholders yet, but the tiny paper lanterns Hunter crafted at school do their piece at creating a warmly lit environment. He decides against turning on the kitchen lamp, not wanting to overwhelm any sleep-heavy eyes.

When he opens Izzy’s bedroom door, he almost suffers a heart attack when she immediately flies out the door.

“Breakfast?”

Simon catches his breath, one hand steadying him on the cabinet next to him. In the drawer right beneath it is one of his inhalers. Thank God for Carla, he thinks.

“Jesus, Izzy, you startled me!”

Izzy beams. “Hunter said, if I was in a horror movie, I’d be the final girl because the monster would be too scared of me to kill me.”

Simon can vaguely remember Hunter’s outburst having been about the hormone-induced pimples blooming on Izzy’s face, but he avoids the topic before Izzy remembers as well.

“Breakfast is almost ready. You go ahead and – actually, no, Izzy. Put something on your feet. It’s October.”

Izzy looks down at her bare toes and hops around him to the bathroom where her slippers are waiting for her. While she’s occupied, Simon moves to wake up Hunter, opening the door a little more careful this time.

He needn’t have bothered, because Hunter is still fast asleep. Simon can’t help the blissful sigh that escapes him at the sight and sits down at the edge of his son’s bed.

“Hunter,” he coaxes, “time to get up! Breakfast is done any minute.”

A muffled groan answers him from beneath two layers of fabric, and Simon can’t hold back the grin at the similarity to Carla’s reluctant awakening.

“Good morning, young man,” Simon says, ruffling the floppy blond strands that escaped from between the pillow and the mattress.

“Morning,” Hunter grumbles, leaning into Simon’s hand. “Is it Sunday?”

“Yeah, it would seem so.”

“Damn it.”

Simon frowns in confusion. “Is it a bad date today? Did a hockey player die?”

Hunter giggles and emerges, pushing his hair back and falling on his father in a tired hug. Simon does his best to not fall from the bed and wraps his arms around him.

“No, it’s not a bad date. Not specifically, at least. But if it’s Sunday, that means that tomorrow is Monday.”

“Oh,” Simon replies, because he can’t think of anything else to say.

Izzy materializes in the door, looking mildly upset about being left out on the hugging action. Simon frees one arm and beckons her to them. She quickly settles in the sleep-warm embrace.

“You’re wrong, by the way,” she tells Hunter after squeezing him and Simon for a few minutes. “Today being Sunday means that there’s waffles for breakfast.”

Simon kisses them both soundly on their warm, teenager-pimply foreheads and throws Hunter a pair of wool socks, then they relocate to the kitchen.

It’s cozily warm inside the modest little room, and while Hunter and Izzy enjoy the waffles, the effect of the candles isn’t totally lost on Carla. They share a long, tender, close-mouthed, safe-for-kids-to-watch kiss, igniting the feeling behind Simon’s sternum once more.

She proceeds to pile a generous amount of waffles on Simon’s plate, which he douses in sirup until it almost sloshes over the rim of his plate.

“We sure are a waffle-loving family,” Hunter muses with his mouth full, sheepishly swallowing when Carla gives him a stern glance.

“Yeah, we sure are,” Izzy agrees, reaching out with her fork to put another waffle on her plate. “You love them, I love them, Mom loves them, even Dad loves them…” (Simon hates waffles like the plague. He will never tell them, though.)

“Don’t mind if I do,” she sing-songs, and when her and Hunter’s eyes meet, Simon knows what’s coming next.

With noses crinkling in a desperate attempt to not burst out laughing, they take a deep breath.

Simon presses his lips together. Here it comes.

“Toe tap a flea!” they crow in unison, bits of waffle flying over the table in the following fits of laughter.

Carla rolls her eyes, but the corners of her mouth lift into a big smile.

Simon just nods, doing his best to keep his breath even and his face serious.

The twins pause their hollering for a moment, astounded by their father’s atypical reaction.

Simon takes a deep breath. His time has come.

Carla, who has figured it out by now, has to press her hand to her lips to not break down then and there. When Simon asks her to confirm that she sure likes herself some waffles, she can only nod wildly and snort into her hand.

Simon folds his hands on the table as if in prayer.

“Enjoy your meal. Clown slap a tree,” he says gravely.

(A full-on laughing Carla punishes him by making him eat three more waffles, but it’s definitely worth the absolute delight on the faces of his children.)