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we never learned to wait for the dough to rise
Photography by Georgina Cope
1. Take one cup of flour and pour it over your body. Feel the powder fill your pores, soak into your bones and joints and liver until you calcify.
2. Take one egg, separating the whites from the yolks from the shells. Add each part one at a time, slow and intentional.
3. Tell her to mix it together, the flour and egg.
4. Feel your body fall away, piece by piece, when she mixes you.
5. Sugar in whatever form you can find—powdered, granulated, brown, the honey that still has bits of bee wings and legs in it.
6. Melt the butter between her lips when she says, We don’t have much time left. When she says, I think I’m leaving you. It is better this way.
7. It is better unsalted.
8. The softer flavor helps with the kneading, the pressing of her hands into your sternum and hips, the end flavor.
9. Chocolate chips, almond slivers, her favorite dried fruits in the bag tied with twine from the farmer’s market. Those go in last, and you feel them sink into every part of you, filling in the gaps from that party when you both danced with other people and fought afterwards and decided at the end of the night, Yes, we should live together.
10. Preheat the oven
11. This is your last chance. You can’t make things right. You know she’ll be gone by morning, that she’ll leave a note that only says, Don’t call me for a while. You know she’ll take almost none of your shared things—the glass vase, the record player, the books, the thrift store quilt—because it’s the type of thing you’d get mad about.
12. But you try anyway.
13. Bake in the oven until you feel your bones crack, until your knees bend the wrong way, until your skin rises and falls, not unlike breathing.
14. When you finish, your apartment will be empty. You already feel like you’re forgetting her, until one day you walk by the bookstore and catch a scent that reminds you of your second date, the Italian place, the wine stains on your lips, the first time you saw each other naked.
15. Her smell wafts around your home, laces through the walls.
16. Wrap yourself in muslin cloth and store somewhere cool and dark. Serve when ready.
we never learned how pie tins worked
1. Pick each berry into the bucket. Remember the grapes. Remember how she used to squeeze them between her fingers.
2. Pour the water into the bucket, picking out the leaves, the pebbles, the tadpoles you thought you caught when you were young.
3. Pour yourself into the bucket, feeling the heat of the sun against your naked back. Clean yourself and the berries raw and red.
4. Dry in the sun. Shrivel into your skin mixed into the peels of each berry.
5. She will say, I love you, but.
6. She will say, I want to be with you, but.
7. Mix flour, milk, and honey for the crust. Build it thick but light.
8. You will say, I understand. But.
9. Lay the dough over the pie pan, pressing it down into the tin and cutting away the excess hanging over the lip. Make sure it all sticks. Make sure each movement matters.
10. Mash yourself, the strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, mixing the juices and skin, seeds and muscle, pulp and powdered bone until fully incorporated.
11. Pour the you-and-berry mix into the pie tin. Lay the dough over this, poking holes into the top for ventilation. Feel the knife slide in deep and quick and deserving.
12. Place in the oven, 350 degrees for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown, flaky.
13. Remember the dream you had? It was night and you sat by the pool with her, taking pictures, smiling into each other’s cameras so you could boast to the world. Remember in the dream how her hair smelled, how your legs bumped together in the water? Remember how you woke confused that she wasn’t there, lying in the curve of your legs, the cold of her ear against your lips?
14. When you finish, hot and syrupy and purple as bruises, remember that it is okay to love her. When you cool down in the flaky crust, remember that some dreams are only meant to be just that. Remember that there is sadness in love.
15. Serve immediately with powdered sugar or ice cream.
On Alvin Park’s ‘we never learned to wait for the dough to rise’ and ‘we never learned how pie tins worked’
This was an easy choice for us. Alvin’s stories are visual, sensual, sensory; each number feels thick with love and loss. The sentences are short and sharp and simple. The whole story feels like a ‘recipe’ for something tangy and sweet. There’s so much raw honesty and deliciousness here that we feel like we are being baked into a pie and torn apart with hands and squeezed between fingers. Alvin shows us the relationship between love and food and eating, the very thing that keeps us human, no matter what: ‘Dry in the sun. Shrivel into your skin mixed into the peels of each berry.’
We like stories that look good on a page, so we loved the way Alvin told his stories. They complemented the theme ‘Eat’ beautifully. If a story doesn’t sit right in our eyes or mouths, it’s not going to sit right in our hearts – and Alvin’s choice to tell this story like a recipe, like a list, is powerful. It still lingers in our minds as one of the most enchanting and synaesthesia-inspired stories we’ve published so far.
Synaesthesia publishes work that evokes the senses. We publish work with a strong narrative, because stories are what give us hope. We want to publish work that is human and tells stories about humans, relationships; the things people do to stay or leave a relationship. Alvin’s stories epitomise this and make us feel sexy, wanted, not-wanted, unsure, restless, warm, guessing. We can’t wait to see what else Alvin cooks up in the future.
Annabelle Carvell and Carlotta Eden
The wonderful image for this story was taken by Georgina Cope. She is a food photographer and food stylist based in Buckinghamshire, UK. Her approach combines rustic, realistic styling of food with natural light and the best ingredients to ensure that her images always please the eye and tantalise the taste buds. Find more at www.georginacope.co.uk and on Instagram @georgina_cope.
Alvin Park lives and writes in San Diego. His work has been featured in numerous publications, including The Rumpus, Alice Blue Review, Mojave River Review, and Wyvern Lit. He has a long way to go. Follow him on Twitter at @Chipmnk.