(Time: seven minutes, what can I say? I’m tired!)
What you put into the oven isn’t always what comes out of the oven.
This is something her momma used to say, back when her momma said something other than “unnghhh.”
Clara never quite understood it before. It made sense on some level. You put in sugar, eggs, flour, chips and got cookies. Not the same. But, yes, still the same.
But now she understands. It’s a recipe, just like any other, making a thing larger than the whole.
Humming, she sets the stove to its highest setting. She reads the instructions carefully — she’s never made this before. With her hands combining the ingredients and the song in her throat, she can’t hear the sounds from her momma’s bedroom. She tucks the ball in the square pan, making it just the shape she wants. She waits until the stove is at its highest, the gas flame tick-ticking heat into the room, and then she puts the pan in the oven.
In goes the still metal, the glass, the fuse, the explosives. Out will come noise and light and pain. Out will come a monster-killer, a mother-killer, a daughter-killer.
What you put in is never what comes out.
PS — I asked the boy of the household to come up with “A word that begins with a C.” Perhaps I shouldn’t have asked after having just baked peanut butter chocolate chip cookies…