I looked down at the horror of what I was holding in my hands.

“Veronica, what did you do?” I struggled to get the words out.

Her brow furrowed in concern, “What’s wrong, babe?”

I swung the pan, sparkling clean, to grip it in both hands and hoisted it toward her face at eye level. With a little thrust of the pan and a wide-eyed miming of, “duh”, I hoped the carnage she had left behind would be plain to see. Of course it wasn’t, or she wouldn’t have done it.

“Yes, what? I cleaned your pan. It was so dirty.”

Dirty? Dirty?! Has she never heard of seasoning?

“Veronica! It took years to build that flavor!”

“Flavor? Babe, you mean you cooked with it like that? That’s straight up sinful.”

Sinful?! “What’s sinful is cleaning a man’s cast iron skillet, Veronica!”

“It took me twenty minutes to scrub all that build up off of it!” She grabbed the pan out of my hand and I swear she was about to swing it at me. But instead she started laughing.

I realized in that moment that this was going to be the end of us. I could have forgiven the mistake, but to laugh about it? You think you know someone… I’m not too proud to admit that the tears in my eyes mourned my pan more than the relationship.

She was still laughing as she reached down into a cabinet next to the stove and began rummaging around.

“Get out”, I whispered, “I can’t do this anymore.”

She stopped laughing and went still. Without turning around, voice tense, “Are you serious?”

“Yes, it’s over.”

She slowly turned and I heard the clang and clatter of more pans shifting in the cabinet she had been rummaging in. Something was in her hand.

My skillet.

“Here is your fucking skillet, you idiot.”

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Feb 2·edited Feb 2

"Dad, what are the seven deadly sins?" Theo asked, between heaping bites of raisin brain. Some oat milk spilled onto the breakfast nook table.

"Well son, the most important one is to not be a slob - it's especially deadly in our new home. Also, where'd you hear about sins from? We're Jews, I don't think we really believe in sins." Nathan realized an opportunity to mess with Theo - not in a mean, 'You-shouldn't-screw-around-with-your-kid's-brain' sort of way. Just healthy father-son joking fun. About sinning and hell and death.

"Roblox. My new Roblox best friend VapOrDie419 talks a lot about sinning. He's really smart."

"Theo - don't listen to VapOrDie419. He might be outstanding at Roblox - could be one of the best Robloxers in the world for all I know, but don't listen to his views on sinning. Don't listen to anything he has to say outside of Roblox stuff."

"Okay dad. So what are the seven deadly sins? That is, if you actually know them."

This wouldn't be easy. Nathan knew Theo was a smart kid and wouldn't believe his seven deadly sins if they were too silly. He'd be down for his sinning-b.s.-game if they were the perfect balance of funny but believable.

"Alright you really want to know, Theo? The first one is the sin of Waste. Leaving the lights on, littering, not eating the pizza crust, only eating the pizza crust - these all fall under the categorical sin of Waste."

"Dad who the heck would only eat the pizza crust??"

"Theo - I don't know who. But if you eat the crust only, and not the cheese, sauce, and pepperoni too - you're going to hell.

Shit. Pizza was sounding all of a sudden really fucking good at 10:43 AM for Nathan. The diet he and Rebecca agreed to was slowly killing him. Who cares how they look in bathing suits in Costa Rica? It'll just be the two of them anyway. Fuck it. He's having pizza tonight. Maybe lunch.

"I have to join a meeting Theo, but we can keep talking this through. It's an important convo. Actually, why don't you come up with your seven sins and share them with me later? I'd be curious to hear what you think."

Nathan Stoll. Father. Husband. Engineer. Master cop-out artist.

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