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Dinner at home

My sauce pot is stained with a coppery mark that won’t go away. I’ve tried specialty sponges that claim to remove all kinds of stains, and I’ve tried six different varieties of metal cleaning agents, all have failed. But at least my pot is still a pot for now. It still does the things it’s always done. Now I’m using my pot to make some meat sauce for a lasagna. The lasagna will also have a Béchamel sauce.

I pour cooking oil (I use almond oil, because I like the nutty flavor) into my pot and throw in diced carrots, celery, and onions. They sizzle and spit, and a pleasing fragrance rises. I stir them into the oil with my wooden spoon as they hiss. I am alone in my kitchen, and the sun is going down. Long shadows from the trees outside are stretching across the kitchen floor, like the sky’s black fingers reaching down to touch me.

Next I add the ground beef. I break it apart in the oil with my wooden spoon. The meat hisses as it browns. I turn the pieces over and continue to break them apart so that they cook evenly. My wooden spoon is splintered on the handle and pokes my palm when I hold it at certain angles. I am afraid to remove the splintered wood from the handle because I have seen how wood will split deeper and deeper until it splits completely in half. I can’t risk doing that to my spoon. Night has fallen and it is dim and silent in my kitchen. I leave the pot for a moment while I turn on a light.

Now I add the Italian seasoning, thyme, and bouillon. I stir them into the meat until they are one. I pour in canned tomatoes and tomato paste. The tomatoes are bright red and fleshy, like flesh and blood, and they bring life to the browned and dead meat. I stir, and the pot steams and bubbles. Everything is mixed and homogenous. Everything’s the same. I add water, and then cover the pot so it can boil its way to completion.  Every individual piece that went into the pot is gone, and now is becoming something new. A car drives by outside and headlights drag briefly through my dark living room. I see the couch and its lump of blankets, then it all vanishes as if it never was.

I need to start working on the Béchamel sauce. I need to take out another pan and put more oil with some butter, then carefully stir in the flour. But I am looking at the dark, and the outline of my couch in the dark. The house is dark, except me in my kitchen standing in a pool of light. I am on a stage lit up in a spotlight, and I am looking out into the dark as I play my part. But who am I performing for? I get the pan, I pour in the oil. I watch the butter melt and bubble and fuse with the oil. I stir in the flour. Everything is brown paste. None of the things in the pan are what they were just moments ago.

I must preheat the oven. I must get a baking dish and get the lasagna noodles. Soon I will need to layer the noodles with the meat sauce and sprinkle cheese. Another car passes and breathes its light through the window and onto the couch, lifting it briefly into sight and then lowering it back to darkness. The couch, and the pile of blankets that have not moved since then. Within the folds of the blanket, I am sure, are her skin cells and hairs. But they are not what they were when she was, and she is not.

I lay the first of the noodles in the pan and spread some of the meat sauce over it. It is important that the sauce is evenly spread. Then, I grab a handful of shredded cheese and sprinkle it over the sauce. The right amount of cheese per layer is important. I reach for the next noodle, but I am clumsy, I have always been so clumsy and I knock the wooden spoon off the counter and it clatters on the floor, spattering the cupboard doors with sauce. “Dammit, sorry,” I say, but no one is there to be annoyed.

I pick up the spoon to rinse it in the sink, and it falls in half. The splinter is now a fracture and the spoon is split at the neck. It is no longer a spoon, though it was a spoon just a moment ago. It is now only a broken piece of wood. I put the wood on the counter. The lid is rattling on the pot of sauce. I tear off several paper towels and wipe the mess from the cupboard doors and off the floor. I throw the dirty towels in the bin. A car drives by and light is there on the couch, the blanket, then gone, like a breath exhaled.

I walk to the couch in the dark, and I lay on it. I press my face into the blanket. The lid on the pot is rattling and steam is puffing out. Little drops of water fall from the rim, drip drop, and hiss on the stove

Jonas David is a writer and editor at Lucent Dreaming magazine and lives in the Seattle area with his wife and two cats.

One response to “Dinner at home”

  1. lisa Avatar

    this is so heartbreaking! loved it.

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