When I come home, oranges and oatmeal are bubbling in the oven, giving off the smell of a frantic sleepless night remembering the bake sale is tomorrow.
Made with love and soft and chewy they cool on the counter, the stress of their creation dissipating into the air with a hint of cinnamon and cloves.
My husband’s mother smiles, as she brushes the hair out of her eyes with the back of her hand and tries not to look harried as she coolly sets another tray down and starts to scrape the cookies off with a spatula.
“How was your day?” turns into a cast-down look as I realize she hasn’t slept since last night and has been baking all morning. Baking for me; and remembering because I forgot.
I smoothly pluck a cookie off the tray and pop it into my mouth, expecting the warm, earthy taste of oatmeal followed by the sweet tinge of orange peel…only to realize underneath its usual flavor, is the sharp, metallic taste of guilt.