Modern Baking: A Short Fiction

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She liked the heft of dough beneath her hands. The ingredients made sense; they were simple. And no technology was required except that of her hands and heat. She turned off all of her electronics when she baked. Not even the radio uttered a sound, no white noise to permeate the solace and sanctitude of her kitchen. She sang soft and sweetly, ballads that lifted the latch of the window and carried in the wind to the ears of birds building nests in trees. Her laptop would sit dejectedly in its case, her cell-phone sat forlorn on the nightstand; both permeated a sickly chemical heat, even when shut off, that made her uncomfortable and made her skin itch with confinement—they made it so she was never alone, but not in a comforting way.

 

The heat from the oven would fill her apartment in heady waves. She imagined that is what a pregnant woman felt in summer; a fluidity of heat that encompassed all. She felt like a childless mother in her kitchen; creating nourishing offspring for others from scratch. The simple act of measuring, mixing, and creating calmed in a way that few things did. Here there was no grey area. There was no indecisiveness. Things just were. And then they became. She did not need the flour to tell her what it wanted. She knew what the flour wanted. She did not have to tell the yeast to stand. It would rise and stand on its own. The sugar would sweeten, the eggs would crack. The butter would melt and the flour wouldn’t object that they were merging into one. It just happened, copasetically.

 

Images of her sister’s children smiled cheeseball smiles from the refrigerator. They looked like photos that should be up at a dentist’s office. Ever since they were little kids her sister wanted something or someone to love her unconditionally. Her sister was born to be a mother. She did not have that capacity to love; unconditionally. The word freaked her out. She kneaded the dough roughly with her floured hands, felt the heat surround her and expand.

 

She rounded the dough in her hands, the hot sticky mess of it. She shaped it into something perfect and round. She slid it into the metal belly of the oven. And then she waited in the heat, in the moment of her creation. She waited. And her laptop and phone radiated their heat, their false promises, their indecisivenesses, their grey areas; they waited for her just as patiently.

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