8:31 PM. Twilight deepens, the air tinged that shade of nickel-silver so lovely I wish I was a metalsmith. But I am not. I am many things, I do not know what I am right here, right now, except sated.
It is curious to me, this tightrope tension cable that is my core. It has returned after a longish hiatus. It is back with purpose, a wild beast that has tunneled into my spine and wrapped itself around by brain stem. The claws I can feel digging into my belly. It breathes on my neck while I sleep. It sits beside me in the car as I drive about running errands and pursuing the elusive dollar. Its eyes, I fancy, are a deep green-gold. I must kill it.
Failing that, I must at least put it back in the wilds from whence it sprung. This will be a difficult but necessary undertaking. Both the beast and the need to banish it are unavoidable facts of my existence.
I can imagine this notion may disturb some folks. It disturbs me, too. But before anyone gets too worried I can say this: I have ideas. Notions. Things what give me reasons to be cheerful and know that there is a big difference between what I worry is in the dark and what is actually in the dark.
You see, I have my own personal beast-killer. Night-banisher. The heart's fire to the mind's Shere Khan. I call it...dinner.
Tonight's dinner, anyway. It was an impromptu affair, which many of my solitary dinners at home tend to be. I surprised myself by taking on the beast at the root of its lair. I say surprised because it had been a long, busy day. That cable was wound up. I had works to do and my companions had departed for a weekend road trip that I was unable to join.
I sat in front of the computer, tending the machine and marking off tasks. The prospect of eating alone underwhelmed me, especially in light of contemplating yet another sandwich grabbed on the run. The resignation welled up inside, and I told myself to accept things, to stop thinking.
I stepped into the kitchen for a small snack. The machine hummed softly, files spilling in, folders filling up. I nibbled a tortilla chip. Pouring a cup of tea, I absentmindedly opened the fridge, expecting nothing but cold air and dashed hopes.
What I discovered was promise. Antidotes. Balm for the belly. I found peppers and onion and salmon. My mind perked up. Opening the pantry I found a can of whole tomatoes, and some dried pepper flakes. Behind me on the counter, a jar of rice. Saffron in the cupboard. Garlic. And down low, a small jar of saffron-laced curry powder. I had ideas, and a small smile.
Clicks and clanks, a turning of cogs, the cable began to slacken. The beast began to back away. I left the machine to its own infernal devices and gave my obeisances to the cutting board and the stove. I had no clear idea of what I was making, only that I believed it would be good. I believed it would force the beast to let go.
I chopped. I stirred. I cooked rice, simmered tomatoes and other good things. The beast moved to the edge of the clearing, growling in a way I found comical rather than frightening. When I took the lids off the pans, the beast stood and turned as if to leave. When I plated my creation, inhaling the aroma and eying the colors with delight, the beast slowly walked away.
I took my plate outside to the table on the patio. The sun was going down in a warm breeze. I sat down, fork and spoon in hand. I watched the beast slowly padding away into the bushes behind the corner shed. It did not turn to see me salute its retreat with raised utensils, but its tail twitched wickedly. I think it knew it was whipped, this time. It may have been the wind, but I swore I heard the leaves rustle as the beast cleared the fence.
I chewed my creation slowly. The tension in my spine and belly drained away, leaving me in a state of soft grace. The plate opened up, the red and gold disappearing spoonful by forkful. The beast will probably be back, I reckon. But tonight, here and now, it is outside the fence and I am inside, where it is peaceful.