Happy Meal Number One

Fiction by | June 15, 2008

Because you are a chef, I must stuff my mouth with your cooking. Beat the eggs well, in the kitchen, on the bed, you always say. Even though you know I can’t cook.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Turn the button. That is all I know how to do.

The fat chicken you had marinated overnight with pineapple juice lacks poise lying in the pan. Good thing its head had been cut off. Just imagine if it was there, you might think it was still alive.

I must take part. I simmer myself in a bubble bath. Then apply the lotion on my skin the way you smother the Worcestershire sauce on the legs, the breast, and wings of the featherless fowl. I make up stories in my mind to tell you over dinner. I put on make-up and tie my hair with a green ribbon for garnish. I set the table. The candles are lighted on the center. Sweet wine chilled on ice on the side.

The smell of your cooking pervades the house. We sit, face to face, my toes teasing your legs. I make sure you hear me chew from where you sit. The candles and the sweet wine are consumed. The next thing we know I lie on the kitchen table like a roast chicken. You, as always, are the chef of the house.

On rainy days, the whiteness of the kitchen intimidates me. I just feel that I need to fight it – by cooking. The cookbooks have this precision about everything. Gradually add the sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Why must it be gradual when outside the raindrops are wild on the trees? As if the sky is pouring ashes so that the glass window blurs and the trees burn without fire.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and serve hot or lukewarm. Sounds simple enough; but when I take the pan out the oven, the cake crumbles like it is made of sand. Where did I go wrong? These cookbooks deceive.

It has something to do with the rain, I say to myself. The rain intimidates me the way the kitchen does. I take all the eggs from the refrigerator. Two dozens of them. More than twice what is demanded in the cookbook. One by one, I crack; I separate the yolks from the whites. Bits of shell fall into the mixture. I hate this. I hear you bang the door. Your footsteps coming toward me. You breathe on my neck.

Beat the eggs well, you say.

I tip over the bowl of yolk in the sink. Your eyes widen. I pour the bowl of egg whites on you to see how you look as it drips from your hair. It is part of the presentation.

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