Title: Pumpkin Spice
Word Count: 655 words
Summary: The author is a huge fan of all things autumn, especially the pumpkin products that are so hard to find the rest of the year. She is teased mercilessly for her fondness for pumpkin, but she doesn’t handle it nearly as well as Mona does when her boyfriend of three months discovers her annual ritual of filling her apartment with all things Pumpkin Spice.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me.”
“What?” Kenny was shaking his head. Mona had to ask him a second time before he answered her, her tone sharper and more irritated by the delay. “What?”
“Nothing,” he said. No-thing. The emphasis made the word sound made-up, like the lie she knew it was. Mona clicked her tongue disapprovingly and dropped her keys on her kitchen table with her mail.
Kenny lingered in the doorway.
“Shut the door,” she said. “The hallway smells like burned popcorn.”
He obliged, albeit reluctantly. The hallway might have smelled like burned popcorn, but Mona’s apartment smelled like cinnamon, nutmeg, some artificial autumn-inspired air freshener. (An oxymoron, Kenny thought, if there ever was one.) They had been dating for three months, but he couldn’t remember her apartment ever smelling so… so much before.
“Are you going to stand there all night? I promise, there’s a whole world of doorways to explore,” Mona teased. When he raised his eyebrows, she asked for a third time, “Oh my god, what?”
“You’re one of those girls,” he said. It sounded strangely like an accusation, and Mona narrowed her eyes at him. “One of those Autumn Girls,” he added, catching her stare.
“Are you a pumpkin spice girl or an apple girl?” It wasn’t really a question. He suspected–smelled, really–that he already knew his answer.
“You’re teasing me,” she said. It was clear from her expression that she did not find it funny. Her lips were pressed together in a thin, disapproving line. Kenny did not miss that she hadn’t answered him.
“There are Pumpkin Spice Cheerios on your table, Mo,” he said, gesturing dramatically to yesterday’s non-perishable groceries that she hadn’t cared to tuck into the cabinets yet. She folded her arms over her chest as he strode over to the table.
“Are those actual mini pumpkins,” he demanded.
“I like to paint them,” she said. He didn’t seem to be listening anymore.
“Pumpkin Spice Chex? Is there a whole cereal line?” He glanced over at her fridge, at the collection of cereal boxes that sat on top of it, and groaned. “Oh my god, there is.”
Before Mona could stop him, he was opening her cabinets, exposing cans of pumpkin puree; pumpkin flavored marshmallows (“Oh come on, it’s fantastic in cocoa,” Mo exclaimed when he stared at her, sneering with disgust.); boxed mixes for pumpkin spice pound cake, birthday cake, cupcakes, and sugar cookies; tea bags and flavored coffee; skinny syrups; cookie butter; oatmeal and fiber bars; Pop-Tarts and– “Oh, come on,” Kenny whined. “Even Oreos?”
“That does not even remotely surprise you,” Mona sniffed.
He didn’t bother to close the cabinet doors before moving onto the fridge. He shook his head again at her cereal collection, but gasped audibly at the fridge’s contents. “They make Pumpkin Spice almond milk?”
And cold-brew coffee and creamer. Whipped Butter. She had store-bought pumpkin spice cheesecake on the top shelf, along with a half-eaten loaf of pumpkin bread. He shook his head and closed the door with a defeated push. He turned his back to the fridge, as though it had offended him personally.
“Not even apple cider,” Kenny said, bewildered. He leaned his back against the fridge door.
“It’s going out of season,” she pointed out. “It’s starting to come from farther away.”
That didn’t sound like a very good excuse to Kenny, but he didn’t know what else to say. Sensing that his investigation had run out of steam, Mona started following his path, closing the cabinets in the order he had opened them. She still didn’t put away the groceries on the table.
“I hate pumpkin,” he muttered.
Mona tapped her finger under his chin to make him look at her, and kissed him quickly on the nose when he did.
“Good,” she said, smiling and self-satisfied. “That’s more for me, then.”