A short story for the CAKE.shortandSweet Wednesday Write In
Timothy is sat at a breakfast bar in an immaculate kitchen that is not his. The room is fitted to a high-standard like a show-home; the kitchen surfaces have a soft, white sheen and a faint smell of Dettol. In one corner there is a microwave, still covered in cellophane wrap. It is plugged in and the display flashes the wrong time. In another corner there is a food dehydrator. This looks like it has been used; there is a dried red drip clinging to one side.
In front of him there is a white plate, an Ikea original, cheap yet functional crockery. On the plate there are three items equidistant to each other: a silver paring knife, an ornate teaspoon, and a kiwi fruit.
Timothy pauses, then pushes the stool away from the bar. He goes to the sink to wash his hands again, squishes Ecover soap suds between his fingers. There are little bubbles left around the plug hole. The sudden shot of warmed aloe vera is a reminder of Twinkle.
He wonders, not for the first time, whether Twinkle is her real name.
Washing done, he dries his hands on a freshly laundered beige tea towel. He folds, then refolds it, places it back in its holder near the oven. He resumes his place at the bar and considers the kiwi fruit: the leathery skin, its fur coating. He touches the kiwi, watches closely as the small hairs spring back under his fingers. He strokes the fruit with the knife. Through the window, there is a sudden flash of sunshine, the light catches the knife and reflects in his eyes. He winces for a moment, resists rubbing his eyes; he would only have to wash his hands again.
Save for the birdsong in the garden, the quiet of the kitchen is consoling for him. It will not last for long. He continues to score the kiwi fruit; he is an artist with a knife, a master at work.
‘If you think of a fruit when you’re eating a kiwi, then you’ll taste that fruit,’ Twinkle had asserted, ‘strawberry, banana, melon. Anything. The taste transforms if you will it to.’
The knife sinks in further, the skin breaks and juice squirts out – eager to the sharp edge. As the kiwi falls in halves there is a tang of green and two perfect circles with lines of tiny black pips. He scowls at the irreverent juice on the plate, across the surface of the breakfast bar.
Should have used the dehydrator; reduces the water content, reduces the risk of bacteria. He imagines the kiwi heated, shrinking into itself as the temperature rises above 50°C.
He looks at the fruit, one half has rolled away from the other. The kiwi is too green, too wet. He is disgusted by this. His eyes follow the path of the spurted juice from the counter to the laminated floor. Next to the dots of juice are small drips of blood that trail to the front room. The blood spots get bigger as the route goes on into a cream carpeted living room.
Yes, it will not be quiet for long.