The Best Patty Melt in Texas

From the patty melt’s perspective.

I was in Archer City, Texas recently for a weeklong workshop with the Archer City Story Center, and had the best patty melt of my life at a place called Murn’s. Then, because we had discussed perspective in writing, I decided to write about it from the patty’s point of view.

Don’t look at me or my son ever again.

It’s dark and warm in here, and you’re fine with that. It’s all you’ve known, really. But there’s something different about today; you’re moving toward something, something bright and unfamiliar.

A hand reaches through the dark and grabs you roughly, pulling you through your home, ripping you away from what you’ve known. You land, hard, covered in fluids you didn’t know were possible, and hear a distinct voice telling you to get up, it’s time to go, you’ve got to move.

You heed this voice and the warmth from which it springs, because it shows you how to exist, but without struggle. It’s hot out here too, much more so than your first home, but there are new sights, smells, and foods to try, so much adventure to be had in the dry, wide-open spaces.

Soon, though, the monotony wears down any frolicking excitement you once had. Food becomes your only focus, because everything else is too confusing, or a man comes and yells, telling you you’re in the wrong place, trying to scare you into moving.

It works.

You grow stronger and wiser, no longer needing the nurturing presence you clung to when you first arrived, and good thing, because they took her away from you just as you were getting to know her.

Life settles into a pattern, until one day, you walk up a plank that clinks against your feet instead of the comforting thud of them landing on the red Texas soil. It’s hot and dark in here, and there are so many of you, so many of your friends and half-siblings. But it doesn’t feel like your first home; there’s something different here, a sharp, bitter smell that causes the hair to ripple down your back, along your sturdy spine.

There’s a screech and a growl, and it’s light again, your feet back on the odd plank, then the ground again. You’re moved in bunches and roughly, then are separated one by one. Your turn comes, and you stare at the walls, wondering what the commotion is, then it’s dark.

This is the real dark, the deepest and truest. You are no longer you, but pieces of you. You are hacked, sliced, churned, funneled, packaged, and frozen. You are in the dark and the cold, so cold, never felt cold like this, until one day, the light flashes back in and you are pulled out.

Suddenly you are hot again, the hottest you’ve ever been. You’re moving, sliding between something soft and oily, then you’re flying. You land on something solid, and are picked up, roughly, before you feel another pinch of separation, another change. Churning leads to sliding leads to another landing.

It’s dark and warm in here, and you’re not sure if you’re fine. It reminds you of some other time, when you were different somehow. This time, though, you don’t expect to stay.