Waffle Souls

by Andrew Shaughnessy
Ontario, Canada
genre: Romance

Sarah Morgan emerged from the tent in which her fiancé, Owen, was still sleeping to find Wendy Conway-Chisolm lighting the campfire. Wendy’s husband, Bryce, was hauling supplies up from the overturned canoes.

“Tea or coffee?” Wendy asked.

“Coffee,” Sarah said, though one would have thought from her Welsh brogue that she would have opted for tea. “Owen is going to need it after that paddle last night.”

“That and the transatlantic flight the night before,” Bryce said as he started unpacking cooking utensils.

“He was desperate to do this,” Sarah said, conscious of the fact that Owen had yearned for this canoe trip with his twin brother to celebrate their thirtieth birthdays. “Is that a waffle iron?”

Wendy laughed. “Bryce doesn’t believe in allowing the complicated to interfere with the traditional.”

“What’s the tradition?

“Waffles,” he said. “It’s a Saturday morning thing.”  

                                                                        II

“I don’t love them,” a twenty-year old Wendy Conway said, pacing out the new hiking boots in the popular sporting goods store in downtown Toronto.

“What’s wrong with them?” the store clerk asked, alerting the attention of Bryce Chisolm who was seated beside them and the boxes of hiking boots, piled high.

“I don’t much like the colour,” Wendy said.

Bryce snickered. He’d had the clerk bring him the men’s model of the same boot as he debated with himself as to whether he needed new boots for the annual weeklong trek in Algonquin Park with his brother. The look of them was the only sticking point.

“Focus on fit and feel,” the clerk said to Wendy. “You will only care about the colour if your feet hurt. Besides, these are the last in your size.”

“In that case, I’d better take them.”

As Wendy packed up her box, the clerk turned her attention to Bryce and offered him her assistance.

“I was just looking,” he said.

“I know you were,” she said with a wink. “By the way, those are the last in your size.”

The exchange grabbed Wendy’s attention. When Bryce glanced over, Wendy smiled back. “Please don’t let me be the only one buying ugly boots.”

                                                                        III

If you had been in the checkout line at Mountain Valley Supply Company on that Saturday morning, you would have seen a flustered Wendy Conway, her credit card having been declined and the PIN to her debit card buried deep in a forgotten place in her memory. You would also have seen a frustrated Bryce Chisolm standing behind her with his boot box. He was already twenty minutes late for a command-performance family brunch to celebrate Owen’s acceptance into a university in the UK.

“We do take cash,” the cashier mumbled.

“I’m thirty-five dollars short,” Wendy said, looking into her wallet. “I’ll have to come back.”

From behind, Bryce stepped forward, set his box down and pried two twenty-dollar bills out of his wallet. “Allow me. Please. I’ll give you my number. You can pay me back.”

“You’re trusting.”

“Those were the last pair.”

                                                            IV

 The Rossdale Bistro was a popular lunch spot, particularly on Saturdays. If you had been there on this particular Saturday, you would have seen the late morning sun shining through the bistro’s front window, sifting through the aroma of buttery croissants, apricot preserves and roasted coffee. You would also have seen the Chisolm family at a table set for four in the centre of the restaurant where the matriarch of the family was holding court.

“You and your waffles,” Mrs. Chisolm scoffed.

“Mom,” Bryce said. “I happen to like them,” which was his way of saying, ‘I happen to be twenty.’

As the Chisolm family prepared to leave the table, Bryce spotted Wendy arriving at a table set for two by the front window. She had placed her shopping bag in one seat and was sitting down at the other. Bryce left with his family and re-entered a few moments later.

He approached Wendy, who was studying the menu.

“You again,” she said with a smile to his hello.

“I saw you and I thought I should make sure that you were able to pay for your meal.”

“We won’t know that until I try my credit card.”

“I can wait.”

“Just kidding. I’ve been to the bank. Changed my PIN too. But you are more than welcome to join me if you are worried.”

Bryce looked at the chair with the shopping bag from the sporting goods store. “Aren’t you expecting company?”

“Just me and my boots. But sit. Let me fish out your forty dollars while I have you here.”

Bryce moved the shopping bag and sat down as the waitress arrived with Wendy’s coffee. “Ready to order or shall I come back?”

“I’ll have the waffles with whipped cream, please,” she said. She looked at Bryce. “I know that’s unhealthy, but I happen to really like them.”

The waitress turned to Bryce. “Anything for you?”

“Waffles for me too, please.”

                                                            V

The four campers huddled around the fire pit, Sarah and Owen seated in folding chairs.

“He just sat down and I guess I never thought of asking him to leave,” Wendy said, pulling out the whip cream cannister from the cooler chest. “And he never did.”

Sarah was cradling her coffee cup in two hands and laughing. “You ate two lunches?”

“I would have eaten three if I had to,” Bryce said, working the waffle iron in the open fire.

“They’ve eaten waffles every Saturday ever since,” Owen said, stifling a yawn.

“And what about the boots?” Sarah asked.

“We still have those ugly things. But we go back to the sporting goods store a lot.”

Sarah looked down at Wendy’s feet. “Those look really nice.”

“Thanks. I had to buy them. They were the last in my size.” She paused and looked at Bryce. “Then I bought him lunch.”

Bryce opened the waffle iron and plated a golden waffle for Sarah: “Now, then. Let’s get your tradition started.”


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