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Into the Sink

She slipped her thumb into her mouth, sucked in a heavy swallow of air, shrunk her waist to the size of a noodle, and disappeared down the kitchen sink drain.

Slithering down the pipe, she shrugged the darkness on like a winter coat. There was a piece of dark meat rotisserie chicken from dinner last night stuck against the pipe. She scraped the chicken off and savored the wet piece sticking with black drain gunk and slush, enjoying the thought of repurposing waste for nourishment. She dreamed of being a food writer, so she always jotted down her experiences with food, pulling out a notepad, taking logs of accent flavors and sensations that she would then write up into her food journal later.

This wasn’t the first time she dove into her kitchen sink, and it wouldn’t be the last.

“Mommy, mommy, I have red itchy dots on my armpit.” Into the sink she’d go.

“Honey, when’s your birthday, again?” Into the sink she’d go.

“Mrs. Peters, Jeremy just threw up at his desk.” Into the sink she’d go.

She’d go in when she was happy too, like she was now after reading Salt Fat Acid Heat for the third time. Oh, how she envied Samin Norsat, her fluent Italian speech, her galloping from country to country to discover the world’s flavors, childless, spouseless.

She stayed among the pipes for hours, laying down among the slush, piles of churned up chive potatoes, broccolini, spaghetti, overcooked ribeye her husband made that she spit up into the sink when he wasn’t looking. Eating dried, shriveled up beef is like gnawing on the hopes of yesterday, she’d written in her journal.           

As she rubbed the waste into her skin like a full body beauty mask and made snow angels, she heard the echoes of her husband calling out, looking for her, the whiny shrills of her children complaining for snacks, emails beeping into her inbox from overprotective parents. But she stayed in the waste.

The waste was silent. The waste was kind. The waste was patient. It listened to her when she told it stories of her life where she was the new Samin. Except she was a food writer, traveling to Morocco and Japan to try chicken tagine and udon and unagi, writing for international culinary magazines, winning awards for her words. Five-star restaurants would beg her to come review their food, and she’d show up with thick, dark sunglasses, a paisley scarf wrapped around her head so they didn’t know it was her.

The waste encouraged her fantasies. To leave her husband. The waste enjoyed when she scooped it into her mouth and described its texture and taste. A decadent smoothie of grime, ground bone, dish soap, and soggy strips of onions. The perfect ending to any day.  The waste felt loved. The waste loved her. She loved the waste.

Eventually, when the outside world went to sleep, when she could hear her husband snoring from their bedroom, she’d emerge from the drain, satisfied with her escape, planning her next food article, where this time she might just finally submit it to a food magazine. She could hear the whispers of the waste snaking up the drain, cheering her on.

Courtney Clute just completed her MFA at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, where she studied flash fiction. Her work has appeared in Passages North and Z Publishing’s Florida’s Emerging Florida Writers: An Anthology. You can find her on Twitter at @courtney_clute.

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