Rappahannock Review | Katelyn Kiley
1996
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Katelyn Kiley

Unless you are an aspiring laser beam, your microwave won’t teach you anything

 

Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m eating & eating & nothing can appease me. I just grow hungry again, even as a spoon lifted from hot soup burns my tongue. I hold an ice cube in my mouth. I microwave week-old macaroni & cheese, still good. I read a book about food, hoping to be better. It’s almost midnight & anyway this hunger is human. Alive. I am clean but I long to hold my head under a shower nozzle, one of the fancy pulsating ones, I long to take the warm water into my mouth. I long to close my eyes until I’m afraid to open them, until the whole room might have changed, until I’m sure there’s a shadow standing behind me & I whirl around, catching no one, alone with my heart. My youngest sister watches horror movies like they are a comfort. At sixteen, she knows—just knows—no villain will ever overtake her in a car, no fiery crashes await her, & even if she were stabbed in the heart she’d surely survive, so she leaves the house at night to live a little unsupervised & makes years-older friends who tell her selling weed is easy. Once, my sister was small enough for me to carry long distances. I brushed her hair. I want to make her an egg sandwich again & I want her to tell me it’s good. Instead: this staredown, this shrug. Weeks ago, I bought a new camera. She & I went into the woods & snapped pictures of one another by a pond. Look at the geese, about to take off, she told me. Now stand by this tree, & look up. Lean back a little farther. As a kid she was always making silly faces in front of the mirror. Now, she reminds me about aperture & shutter speed, helps me to control them. She’s learned in photography class that the flash of a camera is good only for washing out your subjects—too bright & persistent, like the beep of a microwave.

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