by Caroline Grand-Clement
Time is frozen, again. It is 8pm & the sun is shining through the open door onto the stove top & the wooden wall. The stairs are lit through the window. It is quiet here, a snapshot of tender. A still fire covering every inch of cold tile with dark orange peels.
The kitchen is still & dark except for those two spots of sunlight. No one does any living here. Meals are eaten at the family table in the living room, teeth brushed over blue sinks beyond the doors on the right, dreams kept bottled up in jars lining the second floor rooms. Books are read outside in the warmth of the terrace, among the garden bugs. The tiles do not make a sound as gentle footsteps cross the room. The shoes piled in a corner are all pointing to the door, ready & impatient to leave & discover a world outside.
The kitchen is a soft in between, full of potato skins & steaming pots. A storage room for rice, milk, the occasional warm cookies. Welcoming, but not enough to make anyone want to stay.
In the yard, the swing set creaks & rocks back & forth. The moon is waking & with it, roe. The sky is lighting up with blood and candy floss. The sun creeps out of the kitchen, eager to go away; it is no exception.
My love is a kitchen. A dark room until night starts falling. Needed only when a hunger rumbles in your loins. An in between, full of wilted flowers & butter knives. A storage room for stale bread, leftover eggplant, milk gone bad.
You come in, light the stove, even sit down for a while. Stretch dough out onto the counters, spill flour all over the floors. How can I blame you? You introduce me to snow. Spend afternoons cutting up figs, stealing a bite every now & then. Pour too much sugar, make everything so sweet. The smell of baked pies fills the corners of my love, until we are drunk on laughter & candy.
& then the burning begins. The oven shudders & the smoke billows out, & you run out, desperate for fresh air in your sugar-coated lungs. You forget to call the fire station & my love is left to put herself out, dampening the dishcloths with salted tears. I promise my love tries to be presentable again, tries to scrub out the scent of ash, gets rid of the ruined furniture, even buys a new tablecloth. It is your favorite color. When you come back on that late Thursday evening, you say it’s lovely. Isn’t it? You say you’ll come back; you promise to come back. You’ll try to make a pie again, maybe with apricots this time.
Then you leave again, close the door, start piling your shoes in another room. You forget the staircase, the flowers on the sink, the silent tiles. You start warning people to keep out, say my love has burnt down & out, that it isn’t functional anymore. You say you need to strip it down or start anew. You build a new home with a new love in which you make new pies & grow old.
Your son comes by, once. He enters through the old door, rotting on its hinges, & steps gingerly inside. He looks around; a finger is passed along the countertops, gathering dust. His face turns into a frown & he shakes his head. There’s nothing for me here, he says. He doesn’t bother taking off his shoes, isn’t planning on settling down anyways. There’s nothing for him here.
After all, no one ever stays. There is always something more beautiful to be seen elsewhere. Somewhere time doesn’t freeze over everything.
Caroline Grand-Clement is a queer eighteen-year-old studying English & Scandinavian literature in Lyon, France. She dreams of art in any form, falling stars & late night conversations. She hopes to make a change in the world one word at a time. You can find her on Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram @octopodeshearts