His eyes shot quickly across the white tiled walls before they finally fixed on the empty chair in front of him. It was new and hardly used. One-hundred percent wood and approved by the Forest Stewardship Council, it said on the label, none of that MDF schlock. It even had a name, ‘Faktum,’ from the world- renowned Swedish manufacturer, the store she loved, and the store she frequented. In fact, she loved the whole Ikea range and he had bought it for her. It made her happy, which made him happy, even though it was expensive to adapt to their sizeable kitchen.
Even the matching cedar table over which he was sprawled was one-hundred percent wood. His cheek lay flat on the table with the tip of his nose touching a knot. He could smell the fragrance from the hardened sap. He remembered her rant about the ‘Tidaholm’ kitchen being environmentally friendly, with the built-in island for her new Bosch oven and combo grill. How sleek the eight brown storage cupboards and drawers would look, freeing up space on the three inch wooden worktop that comprised a silver kettle, toaster and a tower chrome stand, with six white mugs that hung from it.
It was all there. It was all new. He had bought the complete showroom for her. Even down to the white napkins with the wooden toggle rings, which now needed a wash. He grinned at the thought, but it hurt.
His eyes then focused on the granite chopping-board, the paring knife at an angle, the sliced tomato, now mushy, but still waiting. He cupped his head in his hands and clutched hard at his short brown hair as the rolling tears fell to the table. He sniffed hard and pulled back his head, displaying the glistening sheen of his watery eyeballs. He laughed, but it hurt.
He looked back at the chair, her bottle green pyjamas hanging over the black faux-leather backrest. He picked them up and forced them to his nose; temporary relief as her scent still lingered.
His eyes wandered again until he met a green slipper that rested at the foot of the built-in ceramic sink. He scanned for the other until he found it, at the foot of the silver fridge door, untouched since the day she left for work. He remembered her persistence for the two door fridge insisting that it wasn’t only Americans who bought them. She also said the expensive ones were eco friendly.
He wiped his cheeks; then rubbed his eyes. The windows were closed and the panes were partially steamed, the condensation looked like and ever-changing map; each pane displaying a different country as the temperature changed inside and outside.
The smell of the air was rank and humid with the mix of body odour and left-over food. The large metallic pedal bin was overflowing and transparent whisky bottles lay on their sides, close by.