I pause what I’m watching to make cherries jubilee. It’s the new movie about the architect who falls for her married client. They’re doing that thing on screen, where a message bubble floats next to the character’s head. The architect starts, then deletes, then starts her text over, trying to disguise her invitation to cocktails as a business meeting. I always stop when a character is about to make a bad decision. I need to steel myself before the tension really amps up. There must be a dozen movies in my streaming account, all paused around the twenty-five-minute mark. That’s when things tend to get messy, like for this architect.
No one eats cherries jubilee anymore. When I waitressed at the catering hall, Harold would save one for me. They were only popular at retirement and anniversary parties. Eventually Harold just showed me how to make it. Setting the cherries, syrup, and alcohol on fire is thrilling and all, but my favorite part is pitting the cherries, the way it feels to scoop the pebbles out with my fingers, juice staining the skin.
I have mint chocolate chip in the freezer. That’ll do. I let the warm sauce melt the ice cream until it’s soupy and the cherry bits sink to the bottom. The architect doesn’t strike me as the type who’d order cherries jubilee, what with her oat milk lattes. But I have a feeling she likes the old-timey romantic stuff.
I had this weird thought once about architects. When they have an idea for a building, do they feel the shape in their abdomen first? I imagine the organs contorting around it to make room. It must be hard to let go, to see it out in the world, behemoth by comparison, there for anyone to step inside.
Alexandra M. Matthews is a teacher and writer living in the Hudson Valley. Her work appears in Jellyfish Review, Fractured Lit, Atlas and Alice Literary Magazine, and elsewhere.