Cooking A Time Away

As she slices the onion, drops of water form in her eyes. She repeatedly mumbles to herself, like a broken clock, that her tears have emerged only because of the onions but she knows the truth. For months, she has tried to repress the incapacitating feeling of being overwhelmed, of having everyone, yet no one, to turn to. Here and there, her husband asks her if she feels okay before strengthening his unbreakable bond with his work computer. Her children talk to her about their favorite football teams and upcoming exams. Everyone is always talking, but about what? She always finds herself thinking if they ever stop, and take a moment to listen. All of their love for each other runs deep and could never be compromised. She understands that, at least she feels that her subconscious acknowledges the truth within their love. Still, her anxiety never fails to frequent her dreams, day and night. As her tears fall, she thinks of their conversations, their little mannerisms and how they could all be meaningless. She wipes her tears away and tries to squint while cutting the onions, in a vain effort to prevent more liquid sadness.

Cooking always soothes her. Something about the act of creation never fails to subsume her heartache and always gives her the peace she so desperately longs for. Relying on that ephemeral serenity, she tosses the onion slivers into the mixing bowl. What seems to be the faint, forgettable sound produced by the onions hitting the bottom of the bowl consumes her thoughts. For an indefinable reason, it gives her a gnawing feeling of dread, one that she has become so familiar with in recent times. No one event directly causes her unhappiness. Never has she experienced a life-altering car accident, family loss, or trauma to such an incredible extent. Rather, it derives from a combination of forgotten words, gradually decreasing amounts of space on sidewalks, and interrupted sentences.

She decides to make Baja Chicken, a far cry from her original desire for a simple salad. She still continues to toss the onions along with the other colorful vegetables, dedicating her entire being to ignoring the awful sound that does not answer her silent cry. Suddenly, the clash of the fruit and wood stops being so horrifying. She begins seeing it as a union, a form of harmony, an outlook she had previously harbored. She remembers how hardship had always given her a sense of life. Competition had always aroused her. Lack of space on the sidewalks had always made her push harder, against her desire to forget about it and those around her. She wanted that feeling, that sense of life again.

Until now, her mind was focused on lost aspects of the past, yet the sounds created by her cooking arouse her need for exhilaration. It seems as if she never felt grounded in misery, or rather channels that misery to chase the complete opposite. She tosses the vegetables with more vigor. Her brown hair that had previously seemed so limp and lifeless now swishes around her shoulders, caressing her newfound vivacity. It seems incredible that one sound can arouse a feeling that multiplies into so many forceful actions and thoughts. But, that remains the nature of her disease.

She throws the vegetables into the frying pan along with the already-roasting chicken. The sizzle reminds her of the noise the lamps made under the arch where she first met her now-husband. She remembers her experiences, hearts that refused to be broken, that constantly proved their resilience even in the most trying times. She recalls the bracelet that her mother gave her when she left to college, wonderful memories captured in photographs tucked away in her drawers, and hidden conversations on her cell phone. As she waits for her husband to come home, she recognizes that things will get better, that life can again be frozen in the good, the great. She resolves to love, to do everything with her whole heart. But, suddenly she returns to the dread that she knows so well. The feeling lasted longer than usual though.

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