Thursday, October 6, 2011

Oktober the Sixth: Seeds on the Outside

 Woke up early today with characters from yesterday's story talking in my head. Don 't you love when that happens?
 I wanted to make ricotta pancakes with the ricotta leftover from last night's lasgana, but the hubby-man
was still sleeping, so I wrote this while I waited for him to wake up.

Peace, Mari

Seeds on the Outside

By Mari Kozlowski

 Waffles were burning; I could smell them before I got out to the kitchen. Batter had flowed out the sides of the iron and down, pooling underneath the shiny silver and onto the wooden counter. There was a long black spoon sticking out of the pitcher of uncooked batter and a finger lying next to it with blood drying on both ends. It was the index finger, the pointer.

 I picked it up. The nail polish on it was a color my mother used, one of those light coral colors she wore all summer. It was chipped at the tip. I put the finger down and turned off the waffle iron with my clean hand. I hoped there were waffles that didn’t get burnt— I love waffles. There was so much batter lying around I figured I should unplug the iron too, so we didn’t have an electrical fire.

 I thought about the finger a little while I ate breakfast. There were five waffles made already, cooked perfectly, keeping warm and crispy in the oven— my Mom knows I don’t love soggy waffles. We had two kinds of syrups, which could have been hard; I hate to choose. But it was easy after all because one of them was boysenberry and I hate all berries except blueberries.

  You had to wonder why nature developed all kinds of red foods, green foods, yellow, even purple and orange foods, but just that one blue one. Berries are supposed to attract browsing animals to come eat them so the plant’s seeds can be spread when the animals poop all over the place. So blue is probably a better color than red, since lots of animals are red/green color blind. Why would a plant that depends on being eaten to survive, like the strawberry which is the obvious one because it grows its seeds outside on it its skin, why would it develop a color scheme of red and green, so it’s less likely to be seen by certain animals?

 But then maybe it didn’t want just any animals eating it, like cats— cats wouldn’t be as good for spreading the seed since they bury their poop. But then the seeds are planted… but cats don’t eat berries anyway, although I know they like some plants because our cat Phyllis used to eat grass and also dried catnip... it was confusing.

 I decided that after I cleaned up the mess in the kitchen I would go to the library and find a book about berries, and one about plant evolution, and maybe one about genetic engineering that’s used in agriculture because it was possible that berries used to be a different color, like carrots and eggplants; which were both white until people started to crossbreed the plants to set certain traits or increase them.

 That’s what I thought about at first while I chewed my waffles, and I even tried a little drop of boysenberry syrup on one bite of one waffle, but it was disgusting to me because of being purple, and also for tasting like berries that weren’t blueberry. I guess just because berries are interesting doesn’t mean I like them as food. Maybe I could like them as plants, though. I could ask my mother when she came back for her finger, if we could get a strawberry plant and keep it in my room. There’s a lot of sun in my room.

 That’s when I thought about the finger again. I was sure it was Mom’s, and it was definitely the pointer. You can tell which finger is which; they look completely different except for the first finger and the third. The index and the ring finger are the only two fingers you’d ever mistake for each other, except that the index finger really does look more pointy. And it curves in towards the second finger, which is a bad finger in some ways since you can use to it to swear at people without talking. But the ring finger curves towards the bad finger from the other direction, and so when you’re looking at just a single finger on its own, like my Mother’s on the counter, you can tell which one it is in a couple of different ways. 

 I was sure it was the pointer, and that it was hers. Even without her nail polish color I know Mom’s hands pretty well. She slaps me in the face with them all the time, so I see them close up. And she points at problems in my math homework when I do it out in the living room, to show me what numbers are supposed to look like when you don’t write them backwards like I do sometimes when I’m tired or not paying enough attention to the way I’m holding my pencil.

 So I see her hands a lot, and I know it was her finger from that little scar on the side where she had a wart burned off once. We’re not supposed to tell anyone about that. We’re supposed to say that she burned it baking cookies, but I don’t lie. My mother lies all the time. She never bakes cookies, not even the kind you buy in a roll at the store and just slice off and put on a pan. When I want cookies I buy that kind and bake them myself. I know how to turn the oven on, and I know to wear the potholder shaped like a glove on my hand before I pull the pan out of the oven. Because the first time I made those cookies, I didn’t, even though Mom told me to, and it hurt like crazy and the smell of my skin getting cooked by the edge of the hot pan made me vomit.

 The phone rings while I’m cleaning the waffle batter off the counter with a sponge so I answer it and it’s my father. He asks me to get Mom and I tell him she’s not here, but she must be coming back soon, because where would she go without her index finger? And I hang up the phone and squeeze out the sponge and get on the bus to go to the library. I really want to find out about the strawberries.  



JohnPainter said...

Details like "the smell of my skin getting cooked by the edge of the hot pan made me vomit," go beyond the realm of simple evocation to attain a surreality which one only finds in the best literary fiction. And there are a number of such details in this short piece which, so far, is the best of the bunch!

heavy hedonist said...

I agree, this stands up pretty well sans edit. I think it is expandable, as well.