This is a story in response to the FridayFlashFiction challenge at terribleminds.com, to write a story about making a sandwich. Word limit 1000. My story, 10000 words. shortlink http://wp.me/p1BAlV-2j
The Last Sandwich Louise Sorensen February 20, 2012
There is a cold spot in the kitchen where I am standing.
Ingredients for lunch are laid out on the counter. Bun, butter, cheese, meat. With the bread knife, I saw open the bun, and stick it into the toaster oven to heat up. The counter surface shimmers momentarily, then firms up. It does this sometimes.
My husband comes up behind me and hugs and kisses me goodbye. I lean back into him and smile. He’s off to work.
Outside, he scrapes ice off the windshield of the car. The scraping ends, the car door slams, the engine starts. Gravel crunches softly on the road as he drives off.
It is overcast outside, and very dark in here. The counter top, stove and refrigerator are all the same uniform gray, as if they are made up of one misty, insubstantial piece.
I am all alone now, in this big old house. The air feels hollow, only coating the edges of the walls. A high pitched emptiness magnifies every snap, creak and groan of the centuries old brick and mortar.
While the bun toasts, I watch the black and white television on the wall in front of me. There is some kind of cartoon on, but the sound is muted. I hear the theme song to a television program. I think of another theme song, and the music immediately changes to that. I think of listening to a third tune, and the music changes again. I realize that the music I am hearing is playing in my head. It is very loud and sounds exactly like it would if it were coming from the television.
The bun is finished toasting. Too hot to touch, I open the toaster door, spear it with a knife, and slide it out onto a plate. I do not smell the aroma of fresh toasted bread, meat, cheese, or anything else. My nose is numb. I have a little trouble catching my breath.
Although I notice no one come in, someone is here in the room, behind me. It feels like my husband. He must have come back for something. As he has already kissed me goodbye, I do not look around. I feel him stand behind me and stare at me a for quite a while. I am almost ready to turn around and face him, when he moves away soundlessly and goes back out. There are no footsteps or scrape of door opening or closing. He is very quiet.
I butter the hot bun halves and open the package of sliced meat. Placing slices of meat on the bottom bun, I close the package and put it back in the fridge beside me.
The cartoon plays on, something about a wolf driving a car down a long highway. As the car bounces up and down on the undulating surface of the slick, black road, the two white center lines roll like waves. Every now and then, the wolf’s smiling face leers out at me in a close-up. He has big white teeth.
Muted, the cartoon is very soothing, almost like a dream. I look down at my hands and realize I am buttering the top half of the bun again. I stop, and reach for the plastic wrapped block of cheese.
I sense someone enter the room again and stand behind me. Whether I can tell this by the sound of footsteps, body heat, or the way the air in a room is compressed by another person, I do not know. But there is someone there again. He, somehow I know it is a he, stands behind me motionless, staring at me. I can feel his gaze as strongly as if I were looking at him face to face.
But this time, instead of turning around and leaving, he zooms in soundlessly behind me. I feel him approaching like a furnace door opening. In a split second he slaps his heated form to mine, and breathes into the back of my neck.
I lift my head up from the sight of the sandwich ingredients and look straight ahead, paralyzed. A fireworks of sparkling orange fills my vision. I feel this being disperse himself into my back, his atoms blasting into the cells of my body in an explosion of heat from my head to my toes.
I stand paralyzed for an eternity.
Finally, I summon enough courage to put down the butter knife and turn around.
There is no one there.
The heat dissolves. My heart is pounding, my back covered with cold sweat. There is a muffled creak in a room nearby, and my heart races faster. A boom echoes from a room farther away. I begin to seriously consider the possibility of the existence of ghosts.
I look into the next room, the kitchen nook. Eyes wide open, I go over every square inch of the wall. Is there a larger shadow in the corner of the ceiling now than there was before? Is that where the being that tried to possess me, for that is what it felt like, is hiding? I struggle for breath and decide that I cannot live in this house a moment longer. I must escape.
I stand at the kitchen counter, pressed against it for support, for more than a few minutes. Finally I realize I must have had a waking dream. My first. It was completely realistic and believable.
But no one and nothing assaulted me. There is no black and white television on the wall in front of me, no cartoon playing with the mute on. No smiling wolf. No ghost.
Then I think that next I will be imagining that I am the ghost, caught in a never ending loop, reliving the last moments of my life over and over. I smile at the impossibility.
There is a cold spot in the kitchen where I am standing. Ingredients for lunch are laid out on the counter…