I hold my spoon firmly by its handle and dip into a steaming bowl of chicken noodle. I dip even though the soup is too hot and scorches my tongue; I dip until there’s nothing left. Initially, I am satisfied by how full the warm meal makes me feel. I loosen my grip and let the spoon spill back into emptiness. But soon a bitter aftertaste settles on my tongue and I hunger for more.
I pick up the spoon, again. I look into the shallow curvature of its egg-shaped center and find a warped reflection of myself. My face rests at the bottom, melting upside down. I hold the spoon at different angles and watch my alternate self morph like the inside of a lava lamp. She is mocking me from underneath the metallic surface. I smile and she smiles back with wild teeth that take up the lower half of her face. I wonder what it must be like to live in a world where one’s reflection constantly shifts. I want to walk with her, side by side, and explore the life reflected in a spoon.
I often float between worlds like this. I dip into spaces near and far from home. When I was younger, my fingertips would glide between thousands of textured islands mapped out on the drywall of my mother’s kitchen. If I sat long enough, the islands would shift into whole continents discovered and warred over. Even in the walls, people couldn’t behave.
Most days I feel weighed down, exhausted as if I have accomplished more than walking from my apartment to the library and back again. But this is not the case. My steps are minimal, but maybe it’s the distance between each step that drags my feet. My daydreams lead me through doorways to all sorts of somewheres and time travel takes no time at all. It’s a strange feeling to have a hunger for something beyond living—beyond what is real. Even when I am with others, I have a habit of slipping away. I watch the movement of their lips filtering words like the o-shaped mouths of goldfish. My attention drifts to thoughts of whale sharks feeding on krill in the Caribbean. When people ask if I’m still listening, I hear them from a distance, as if I am underwater.
Late at night, I revisit abandoned memories to pass the time when I should be asleep. They are vivid and child-like. I am seventeen, sitting in the passenger seat of my first love’s Jeep. He drives with one hand, so the other can hold mine. This was love — risking both our lives just to feel the other. I can feel the rough callouses on his palms and when he laughs, I know it’s from something I said. I am in love again, and for a moment, I no longer feel alone.
I am my mother’s daughter and have acquired my more imaginative side from her. She too has a difficult time accepting that sometimes a wall is only a wall. When she and I are together, we reminisce. Her eyes warm when she talks about him, yet they look past me as she uproots memories of my father with a rose-colored shovel.
It is always the smallest detail she chooses to elaborate. I don’t know much about their wedding day, except that the champagne was pink, the dress was off-white, and she received sterling silver tea spoons from a relative on my father’s side. I know that there were guests because of a bin I found in storage awhile back, filled with photographs of the well dressed and unfamiliar.
Still, what I’ve heard most about are the silver spoons. The time my mother has put into describing them is about as much time as the wedding ceremony lasted, maybe even more. I have never seen them, yet I can imagine the ornate floral design on each handle and the newlywed initials delicately etched at the bottom. The memory of their luster becomes more and more extravagant each time she mentions them.
She visits him and the most beautiful spoons while sitting next to me. She digs deeper into a life that no longer exists — a perfect marriage of 10 years. But I can’t trust the distance in her eyes, for she remembers the past as more than it was meant to be. I have to question if the silver spoons ever truly existed. If their life together was so perfect, right down to the spoons, then he wouldn’t have left. The memory fades and I watch her smile weaken. I know she feels his absence because I do, too.
Tonight, I am alone. I turn off the TV in the midst of an audience laughing at low volume. Silence fills my apartment; I am encased by it. I stare at my spoon-warped reflection and continue to lock eyes with myself to see who will blink first. I wonder what it would be like to be trapped in a reality other than my own. I wish I could ask if my alternate self is happy. I want to know if she is safe behind the spoon’s surface. I begin to talk aloud. I tell her, now would be the time to reveal herself. No one is around except a girl who talks to spoons.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Delaney G. Eaton is a poet, writer, and winner of the 2018 Amy Wainwright Award for Creative Nonfiction. She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelors degree in Psychology and a double-minor in Gender Studies and Creative Writing from the University of North Florida. Since graduating, Delaney enjoys working as a legal assistant and contributing to the Palm Beach Women Writers Group.