Eight months ago, after you left, I learned how to make soap. In fact, I uncovered the buried truth that adding any number of additives will not, after all, interfere with saponification, and that soap is actually a paradox. It takes oil to remove oil. And so eight months ago I came up with this recipe amid the desire to create something out of nothing not realizing it had already been done:

24 ½ ounces of Olive oil
12 ounces Palm oil
4 ½ ounces of Cocoa butter
6 ounces Canola oil
1 ounce Palm Kernel oil
6 ¾ ounces Lye
17 ¼ ounces distilled water

I made the recipe, but I never actually made the soap, which is my eternal problem. I start a project and then quit. The travel agency that I wanted to start but didn’t. The consulting business I wanted to go into but didn’t. The trip to Marrakech that I swore I would take but didn’t.  It was the same with you. The moment you moved in I wanted to quit. You told me, “You have a fear of commitment.” I was defensive. I admit it. I snapped back, “I don’t have a fear of commitment; I have a fear of commitment to you.”

I wish I could relive that moment now. I would come up with something better, like “I’m just afraid. Bear with me.” Or something like that.

Not that it would have made you stay, but…it would have been worth a shot.

So, like I said, I didn’t make the soap. Instead, I listened to DeBussy’s Claire de Lune while ripping the apartment to shreds, getting rid of every trace of you lest I forget for one moment that you were really gone. I sang Martha Wainwright’s “Wish I Were” lying on the floor of an empty living room, until my voice shattered into broken glass. I read Hills Like White Elephants and decided, eventually, we were better off going our separate ways. And I watched really bad romance movies like P.S. I Love You and Ten Things I Hate About You and The Notebook, my hand on my belly, feeling somewhat content that, even though you were gone, you left a part of you behind.

There are two things going on here. A birth and a death. And I still can’t wrap my mind around either.  I should have just stuck to soap. But eight months is long; a year even longer. We are only reminded of the length of time at the end, when we have the sensation that we are back there again, having come full circle; empty, where before we were full. Or should I say full, where before we were empty? Sometimes when it seems everything’s been lost, it’s an illusion. Nothing’s been lost. Everything is still there.  It’s just become something else in the process. And instead of darkening the soul with the burden of love, it washes it clean.

50 thoughts on “Saponification

Add yours

  1. I particularly enjoy the line about something better being “I’m just afraid, bear with me.”

    Interesting how “better” connotes along with admission of fear and emotion, rather than denial or accusation.

  2. This is lovely – but aside from that – will the soap recipe work? Could you sent it with essential oils?

  3. I am glad you got Freshly Pressed for this; it’s a unique piece and you write well. As a first time reader, I was like “This is a great way to express your emotions about a breakup…oh, she’s pregnant…oh, this is fiction?!” 🙂

  4. Pingback: C’est Elena
  5. With the joy of seeing where you are now, I still remember when your stories started with “ponce a time…” -love, mom

  6. Thanks kindly for all your comments.

    That recipe took months of research to conjure up, so I believe it works. And yes, I’m sure you can add scented oils to it. Try verbena.

    Thanks Mom! Nice to see you’re still reading my stuff. xo

  7. I write a blog called Yoga Spy. Until now, I’ve never clicked on a featured blog (no time!). Today, I clicked on yours. The soap image and the word “saponification” piqued my interest.

    Anyway, I’m glad I did. Compelling piece of writing. Reminded me of Lydia Davis.

    Between my work as a travel writer and yoga teacher, I am typically too swamped to read fiction as voraciously as I’d like to. But your piece reminded me not to forgo the literary pleasures.


  8. That’s a beautiful and sad post. I love Clair De Lune too – the music just says so many complex things you can’t say with words. It’s good for the soul.
    Good luck with the soap and soul cleaning…

  9. yeah really amazing .when I saw picture of the glass like pendent i thought something like a valentine gift, But later on readng , it is a fiction.Wonderful

  10. Amazing, for a fiction piece it is really quite full of truths…

    Everything still being there, even though you think you’ve lost it. I love that theory, and I do think I’ll try applying it to myself so I don’t get so caught up in being miserable over memories of what once was, or could have been…


  11. I also lost the one I love, it’s over a year ago. But I continually nag myself wondering if I could have said more or done more.

    I like your post and the use of sapon.

    1. It’s been a year for you. two months for me. Have you really gotten over him or her completely?

      I’m so stuck. I won’t ever burst through these emotions. I’ve fallen in deeper love with her. Getting over her feels totally impossible.

      1. A break up is tough. But it’s not impossible. Every day you grow stronger, and then one day, you are completely healed. Every break up that I have ever had was a blessing in disguise. You are meant for another path; you are meant to meet someone else. You must trust what life has in store for you. From your vantage point, you cannot see that right now. From mine, I know you will be OK. 🙂

  12. This is my first time clicking on a blog on Freshly Pressed and your short story is really beautiful. You actually had me there until I saw the line, “This entry was posted on June 3, 2010 at 7:08 and is filed under Short Stories.” 🙂

  13. Love this! Glad I stopped by. I am suddenly feeling very inspired which is wonderful because at this very moment I need to be…

  14. How could this be fiction. It sounds so real. In a way i was hoping it was real because of the break-up I’m going through right now. It’s been killing me for the past two months and i don’t feel like i’ll ever be able to get back up. I can’t stand without her. My feet feel like they’re just treading and dragging behind me. I thought after two months I would be fine. I actually feel worse.

    This post helped me see a few things a different way. It reminds me how much i want to turn back time and correct the wrong things I committed. Theres no turning back as much as i wish there were. If life is circular, I wish this part would break off.

    1. Isn’t all fiction based on reality? Doesn’t art imitate life? This was based on events that happened a long time ago. All the more reason to believe that life gets better after a break up. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: