The Empty Cup

The last casserole was dropped off last Tuesday, I put it in the freezer with the rest. I left out the banana bread, eating half the loaf in one sitting, smothering each piece with too much butter. I wait to hear her voice, like sixty grit sand paper working on me. I know all about cholesterol, I don’t need to be told. I listen, but only hear the birds. The cup sits empty beside the porcelain sink. I should wash it. The red lipstick and coffee stain will get harder to clean the longer I leave it.

Maybe tomorrow.

Curtains above the sink snag on the hole in the screen. “Can you fix it?” she’d say. “Damn flies are coming in.” She had wanted new curtains, said she‘d make ‘em herself. Came home with some fabric––paisley she called it. I hated them but never said a word.

Going through the screen door with my last piece of buttered bread, I shuffle to the one thing she wasn’t allowed to touch. This chair’s been with me long before she set up house. It was a part of me. She wanted to “spruce it up,” as she would say––I didn’t know if she meant me or the chair.

I  watch a few cars drive by, wave at the blue Honda, then wipe the butter from my fingers on the worn out arm that’s loosened over the years. A slam of my palm in the right place catches the nail. Good for another day. I look at the curtains from the outside and think about ripping them down.

Maybe tomorrow.


I wrote this story in 2009.  I wrote this for a creative writing class I’d signed up for.  It had been years since I wrote a story but there I was, sitting in a community college classroom, trying to find myself.  I come back to this story every so often––wanting to edit it, wanting the voice to be like mine is now.  But I leave it alone.  I make the changes but never save them.  This story wrote itself while I took this shot, walking the streets of Prescott, Az.  I was so aware of the smells and textures and light.  The story came out of that moment.  I guess I want to remember it just the way it was, imperfect and unedited––kind of like life.