The Strawberry Cheesecake
A Forgotten Book
The Fist Fight
Another Season Ends
A Sick Cat
Other Cuts and Bruises
The Half Blood Prince Rewind
The Next Book
Klutz (noun, slang) -
- A clumsy person.
- A stupid person; a dolt.
On a windy day with a sea-colored sky Amanda made her way up to her Grandma's house. As was her duty, she brought all the ingredients and tools necessary to make a yummy dessert: in this case, a strawberry cheesecake. She arrived to the smell of old flowers and forgetfulness, and immediately set to her work. Within a half hour the cheesecake batter was mixed, the strawberries were pureed, and all necessary ingredients had made it into a graham cracker crust and into the oven.
The cake taken care of, Amanda set to cleaning up the mess she had created. Bowls were licked and rinsed out, beaters washed, counters wiped, until only the food processor remained. Amanda set about the task carefully, wary of the sharp, curved blades. Soon, the main body of the machine was cleaned out and only the blade, fixed stubbornly to its pivot, remained. Amanda carefully grasped the dull side of the blade and pulled. With a sweet sound of revenge, the razor-sharp blade slipped and cut into Amanda's finger. She swore under her breath and dropped it in the sink, squeezing her bleeding finger in her fist. The blood was red like fruit punch and anger. Upon further examination, it seemed to be just a nick, on the inside of the top joint of her finger, where the skin wrinkles and puckers to bend.
A Forgotten Book
Not long after the food processor took its revenge for unknown offenses, Amanda's uncle, a tall man with a bald head and rusty ponytail, her aunt, a women with bouncy brown hair who smelled of stress, and cousin, a athletic girl of 21 years, arrived and set about their own duties. The room gradually filled with the sweet scent of strawberries and cream. Amanda found a book sitting on the counter. It was a book called Touching Darkness (Midnighters Volume 2). She had left it there the last week, the book forgotten in her rush to get home. She picked it up with excitement, and exclaimed that she has been looking for it.
"Is that yours?" Her grandma asked.
"Yes! I forgot it here," Amanda replied excitedly.
"Oh, I started reading that," Grandma replied, a sound of slight confusion, perhaps fear the book would disappear, in her voice.
Grandma read a book about teenagers who experience an extra hour every night well everyone else freezes? Amanda never would have picked it for her, but if she wanted to read it then she was more than welcome to.
"Oh! Then I can finish it while I am here today and leave it for you." The words came to Amanda readily and poured into the shared air, an invitation to enjoy a fantasy world.
Forty pages later, and the cheesecake was done. Amanda opened the oven door. 350 degrees of heat and hard work poured out, along with the mouthwatering smell of success. Amanda slipped on hot pads and pulled out the cookie sheet, balancing the cheesecake carefully. The pans seemed so hot, they seemed to try and burn right through the hot pads. She rushed it carefully out to the garage and slid the pie pan onto a cooling rack which had been carefully laid out for her by her uncle, but there was no where to set the cookie sheet. She started to ask her uncle where to lay it out, but the pan bit her with hot teeth through the hot pads and she decided to just set it down. Her uncle however caught her request with eager ears and began to give instruction.
"Just wait a minute, let me pull out another rack," he sputtered. Amanda was frustrated. The pan was so hot! But she waited. She shifted the cookie sheet around this way and that, moving her hands in the hot pads to keep them from sizzling. Then, in her haste, the cookie sheet slipped and with a sharp pain slid against her forearm, leaving a 4-inch long red line, a needle-thin raised blister on the skin. Amanda cursed, out loud this time, and set the pan down on the garage floor, running inside seeking a cool reprieve from the burnt puckering of flesh. The injury had its benefits though. Uncle felt horrible and treated Amanda very kindly all evening, and as she needed to hold ice onto the injury, she was left to her reading and not asked to help with other tasks. She was able to finish her book to leave for Grandma. And, when dessert came, the cheesecake was even more delicious for the pain that had gone into making it. Amanda drove home under a chocolate sky, her belly full and the pain in her arm subsiding.
Three days later, Amanda and her husband found themselves wondering what to do for dinner, and decided to join some friends for a trivia night at a nearby restaurant. The game was filled with laughter and good food. After six rounds, the game was coming to a close and Amanda's team found themselves tied with someone else. A tie-breaker question was asked. The DJ read the question slowly over the microphone.
"In what year was the first Tour de France completed?" The words hung like electric static in the air, buzzing in the ears of the competing teams, and then being matched with a buzz of whispers.
"I think we should guess sometime in the 1960s"
"Couldn't it be a lot older than that?"
"It was after WWII, right?"
Then, a voice of more confidence, the voice of Amanda's husband chimed in. "I think its A LOT older than that. I was reading about the Tour de France, and for some reason, the date 1870 is sticking in my head."
"That seems way too old"
"I don't know, when were bicycles capable of doing mountains like that?"
"I think we should go with him, always go with your gut I say"
"Lets moderate it, since we don't have to be dead on lets guess 1910," said Jeff, self appointed team leader. With anxious eyes they submitted 1910 as their answer. The date 1870, the gut feeling, hung in their air like bits of fog. The music stopped and the DJ began.
"Well, we have two very different answers here! One team chose 1970 and the other chose 1910. The actual answer is," there was a silent pause for dramatic effect, and it was filled with excited nerves.
"1903!" FYC takes the game! All the friends jumped up excitedly and patted each others backs, all except Amanda's husband. He leaned back in his chair.
"Why did I think 1870, what is that date?"
The Fist Fight
Amanda had never been in a fist fight. She still has not really, but that strange Thursday afternoon experience gave her an idea of what it might feel like. She was laying in her cinnamon colored bedroom, the TV droning in the background, when she decided to stand up. Well, she didn't just decide to stand up. She remembered suddenly that she was supposed to do something, and went to leap out of bed. Unfortunately her leap was not successful. Momentum building, she threw her feet off the bed and started to lift her body. But, her left foot landed in a laundry basket that lay hidden near the bed. The momentum was too much. Her body swayed forward. She grappled with the basket, trying to remove her leg, but to no avail. As if in slow motion, she careened forward onto the cluttered floor, the right side of her jaw meeting heavily with the edge of a waste basket. It broke apart and fell. For the third time in the week, Amanda swore, righted herself, and rushed to the bathroom. There was no purple bruise or red cut to accompany the throbbing, red pain that filled her cheek. So this, she though, is what it must be like to get punched in the jaw. Her jaw ached for two days straight, and even after that remained tender to the touch.
Another Season Ends
Despite her sore jaw, Amanda had friends over that night. They came bearing casserole and vegetables, gossip and goodwill. They shared laughter and food, and then settled down for a serious two hours of Torchwood. The episodes were serious. The air in the darkened room was filled with a black tension and smell of sadness. The second season ended. The lights were turned on but a gray, hazy mood remained. Plans were made for another get together. The guests left.
Amanda noticed, Gandalf had not disturbed them all night.
A Sick Cat
It was not like Gandalf to leave so many guests alone, especially when they were focused on the television instead of him. Amanda went looking for him, and found him in their bedroom, soft grey fur smelling of urine. He was sick again, and it was obvious this time. They vowed to take him to the vet in the morning, gating him downstairs in case he peed.
At 6am, Amanda was having a vivid dream and there was a strange noise in it, a desperate squawking call. Then, Aaron spoke and awoke her, icey fear in his voice.
"Did you here that?" he asked anxiously.
"You heard it?" Amanda replied, swirls of confusion surround her words. She thought it was in her dream.
"Yes" Aaron got up and looked in the closet. No one there. Gandalf was laying in the corner but he looked sound asleep. "I thought you put him downstairs" he said.
"I told you he can jumpy that gate" Amanda replied.
"Well maybe he isn't sick then, if he can jump a gate" Aaron said. He turned the light out.
"He certainly isn't 100%" Amanda replied and rolled over to go back to sleep.
30 seconds later the sound occurred again, but this time in their states of full consciousness, Amanda and Aaron could both discern two new things.
(1) This was an uncontrollable cry of pain.
(2) It came from Gandalf
"Yeah, he is just feeling fine," Amanda said and jumped out of bed (not landing in a laundry basket or getting in a fist fight with a trash can this time. Aaron turned on the light and she swooped up Gandalf and carried him downstairs. He laid down next to the litter box. He laid down in the litter box. He made that horrible noise. He laid down by the wall and was silent for a while. Amanda went upstairs and went to bed. 2 hours later she got up and called the vet, and had them there in a half hour. In the early morning, the veterinary hospital hadn't yet reached its full chaos. They took Gandalf into the back, and several minutes the vet came in, a concerned look on his round face.
Gandalf had a urinary tract blockage and will be in the animal hospital until at least Sunday, more likely Monday. In exchange for getting him back healthy, Amanda and her husband will have to relinquish an arm, and perhaps a leg.
Other Cuts and Bruises
On Saturday morning, Amanda got up and moving with one less cat to follow her around, one less cat to get in her face. That did not keep her from getting injured. Her injuries, after all, do not come from cats. First she noticed a unexplained red, burning cut on her leg. Then, she walked into a table, leaving a dark bruise on the top of her right arm to set off the still-red burn on the bottom. I am truly a Klutz, she thought.
The Half Blood Prince Rewind
That afternoon, under a slate grey sky spitting cool rain, Amanda met her friends at a theater. They bounced around in excitement and entered a dark, cool room, that gradually filled. The crowd smelled of popcorn and giddiness. The movie started. As predicted, it was better this time. Amanda knew what to expect, and what not to spend her energy waiting for. She allowed herself to become more involved. She noticed the intricacies of the good performances. The movie ended, the lights came one. The giddiness was replaced by a sense of urgency in the dull light as people rushed to leave.
The critique began immediately, comparing notes. What were they happy with? What disappointed them. Amanda joined in readily, but was shocked by some of the commentary - not in its insults but in its ignorance. She filled some gaps, then came the comment:
"I am really annoyed they are turning book 7 into two movies," a friend said.
"I am not! I hope it means they won't butcher it as much as they did this one!" Amanda replied, pink with surprise.
"But how much time are they having between releases?" the friend asked.
"I don't care, there is so much in that book, it needs to movies."
"As far as I can tell, the first half of the book is mainly them wandering around wondering what to do" the friend said. Her voice cool with insult.
"I think you should reread it if that's what you think" Amanda replied, the pink surprise tinging into a red frustration.
"I have reread it, and I ended up skipping a lot".
A variety of words in various combinations danced in Amanda's mouth. Most of them explained what happened in the seventh book, and why it was two movies worth, some of them expressing frustration or anger, some of them turning to other topics that had the same bitter taste. None of the words were said, as her friends changed the topic.
The Next Book
The evening, Amanda lay, wrapped in her mocha bed quilt, reading a new book. Never Let Me Go. It left her with a sense of unease as she switched off the light and lowered herself into the black blanket of sleep.
Amanda awoke with a start at 4am, though this time it was no cat. The room was hazy gray. Her thoughts were swirling madness in the nighttime. Her teeth ran over her front tooth, and then her finger. There was a small indentation there. She knew it had been their awhile. What if it broke off? This sudden visualization lead to a deeper, darker feeling. What if it broke off? She would spend the rest of her life with no front tooth, or an implant. That would be part of her story, her only story. The totality of the brevity of life slipped over her and she curled up next to her husband. She wished it was a dream. At least if it was, she would be asleep and not stuck awake so early in the morning, words keeping her awake with their noise.