He gives me chilli chocolate every year as my birthday present but I’m allergic to chilli.
“I’ve bought you some chocolate,” he tells me eagerly, “for your birthday.”
“But I’m allergic to chilli ,” I tell him, puzzled why I have to keep on reminding him, 25 years on.
“Oh. Sorry.” He’ll respond, disappointed. I feel I’ve let him down so I open the packet half heartedly and stare at the shiny black slab nestling under the gold foil, ready to pounce.
“Aren’t you going to try it? I bought it for your birthday.”
“Well…” I look at him, looking at me. “Maybe this time it’ll be alright.” He nods, looking down at the chocolate and then up at my face. I snap the chocolate bar and offer him one of the fragments.
“No, no, it’s for you.”
I pick one of the smaller shards and lift it towards my mouth. Its heat starts to melt the chocolate on my fingers and I wait for the goosebumps to creep up my arm.
“Are you sure you won’t try some?” I offer the sticky black splinter towards him. “I’d like to share it with you. It’s my birthday after all. It’s nice to do things together.”
He shakes his head.
“No thanks. But let me feed you.”
He takes the burning chocolate out of my fingers and sits closer. “Open wide.”
I giggle. It’s always like this on my birthday.
“Guess who’s coming for breakfast?” He slowly lifts the chocolate to my mouth. I close my eyes and he counts to ten.
“One.” I swallow.
“Two.” I open my eyes and see him gazing lovingly at me.
“Four.” I shut them again.
“Five.” He’s touched the chocolate on my lips and I leave it there, not dating to lick it away.
“Six. Seven. Eight. Nine.”
I open my mouth and he inserts not one, but two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten sticky black burning coals into my mouth, one at a time.
“Ten.” I shut my mouth. “Happy birthday.” I open my mouth and he’s beaming at me. “Happy birthday.” I nod, trying to smile back through the tears.