“’Today is the worst day of my life.’”
“Today is the worst day of my life.”
It wasn’t, of course. The worst day of Martha’s life had been the day her whole family died in a fire fifteen years ago. But her otherwise painfully dull life living in a small cabin created a need for some drama. And it was hailing. Looking out the window, watching the hail assault the earth, she couldn’t help but feel that the six-day hailstorm was some sort of punishment. For what, she couldn’t be sure. As the puddles grew larger, the hunger (her last grocery store run was seven days ago) began to set in. And as she grew weaker, dark thoughts seeped into her mind. Maybe it was her fault her family died. Maybe she could have saved them by getting home a few minutes earlier or destroying the stove the previous day in a fit of inexplicable foresight. Or maybe it was because she had gotten cake mix instead of eggs from the supermarket last week. The more she thought about it, the more things she discovered which could be the cause of the hail. The more ways she could have stopped them. If only, if only.
“When will it end?” She moaned to her favorite pan, Becky, which was sitting on a pillow on the kitchen counter next to her. Becky was silent. “Maybe it was the time when I was six,” she muttered. “I was at the ice cream store, and – ”
Something hit the window and clattered to the ground loudly. She gave a small start, then looked outside. It was not hail. It was a rock. She sighed shakily and looked out into the woods. A teenage boy quickly ducked behind a tree, his cackling muted by the distance and the glass. It wasn’t the first time her home had been attacked. The people of this small town were known for disliking the strange and different, and living in a cabin in the town park was decidedly strange and different. The boys of the town often liked to express their opinions on Martha’s lifestyle through violence. The walls of her cabin had had to be repaired five times already. But there was nothing she could do. No one would listen to her, and she didn’t know how else she could live. She couldn’t bear the crowds of people and their uncaring, obligatory condolences after the fire, like a blanket meant to be comforting that was actually suffocating when wrapped around a child that was too small. She needed solitude, but she also had to be somewhat close to other people, because she couldn’t exactly farm her own food. When she first thought of it, the idea of the cabin in the park had seemed perfect, and it hadn’t taken too much work to acquire a permit to make it a reality. But if she could take it all back, she might just go and live in the woods, even if it meant giving up cake.
As if to say “All right, then, go,” another rock came hurtling toward the window. It met the glass with a noise that sounded deafening, then actually made a crack – small, but nonetheless a crack. Martha gasped and scrambled for Becky. But she was too late.
Another rock came flying at her, evidently thrown by Roger Morrison, the town’s star Little League pitcher, as it broke the window and landed right on top of Becky.
Martha screamed. “No, no, no, no,” she said, diving for where Becky had landed on the floor as the rock skittered away. “It – it can’t be,” she whispered. Slowly, hand shaking, she picked Becky up. Becky had landed with the side used for cooking down. “A-are you okay – ” She asked as she turned her over, then screamed again. “NO!”
There was a large dent slightly to the left of Becky’s center.
Martha clutched Becky to her chest. “Shhh,” she soothed. “It’s okay. You’ll be okay. You’ll be okay.” She sat on the kitchen floor all afternoon and all night, as the hailstorm stopped, holding Becky and whispering to her with more love than she would give a baby until she finally fell asleep and slumped over.
Martha woke the next morning to the kitchen, and therefore, as far as she cared, the whole world, cast in the gold-orange light of dawn. She stood up, Becky sliding to the ground, and smiled. Rejuvenated, she spent the morning running errands. She brought her clothes to the laundromat, bought groceries, and had a handyman come to the house to repair the window. When they had left, she stepped into the kitchen and sank into an armchair.
“Well,” she said, addressing the house, “I suppose I’ll…” She let the thought drift into action, and took a different pan from a cabinet, and brought it to her stove. She began to make an omelet. Only when she was seated at her table, eating it, did she finally remember that Becky was still on the floor. “Oh,” she said. “I’m, um, sorry that I used, er, Agatha to make my eggs. But, you know…” She took a deep breath, held it, and let it out. “You’re dented now. And I know, I know it wasn’t your fault. I was there, right? I saw them throw that rock. So it wasn’t your fault. But… I… I don’t think I can cook with you anymore. It just… wouldn’t be right, you know?” She searched Becky’s surface for understanding, forgiveness, anything. But all there was was metal. Dented metal. “Oh,” she said softly, picking Becky up and placing it on the table. She rubbed her thumb over the dent over and over. “I’m sorry. I wish it didn’t have to be like this,” She whispered. “You’re my oldest friend, you know. You know that. I will keep you, I promise. I just… won’t cook with you.” She looked into the pan again. Then she winced and turned to the window. The curtains outside swayed sharply in the wind in what could only be criticism. She stared at them, neck twisted uncomfortably, until a tear leaked out of her eyes. She cried and cried, but didn’t turn back to face Becky, even after she fell asleep.
When she woke, the kitchen was bathed not in beautiful golden sunlight, but in darkness. Martha blinked sleepily, then glanced at the clock. It was seventeen minutes past midnight. “Ohhh,” she moaned, out of both drowsy surprise at the time and significant neck pain. She got up, massaging her neck, and stepped into the doorway to the hall. She paused and turned back to the table where Becky rested like a pouting child, if that child were also made of metal and sitting on a table. “I’m sorry,” she said, somewhat annoyed. Then she stumbled into her bedroom, pulled the covers of her bed over herself, and waited to fall asleep. But she didn’t. She tossed, then turned, then got up, did push-ups until she was exhausted, and crawled into bed again, but it didn’t work. Finally, she scowled, got up, and went back into the kitchen and sat down to face Becky. “All right,” she began. “First of all, for the millionth time, I am sorry about the dent. It was… It was my fault. I should have been protecting you better. I suppose I… haven’t been very good to you. I – I cook in you, and I never thank you. I bought you, for God’s sake. I… So, thank you. For everything. And I hope you can understand that I won’t- can’t cook with you again, but that I’ll still love you. Always.” She reached out, hesitated, then rubbed the dent. “B-Becky?” she asked, eyes and heart heavy with tears and overwhelming love. “Oh, Becky,” she cried, throwing herself onto the pan. Her weeping stretched toward dawn.
The next month, the rock hit Sybill, and the cycle began again.