The tuna salad recipe called for two boiled eggs. Two organic boiled eggs that looked too much like they were about to hatch in the boiling pot of water; threatening to burst open with chicks that would immediately cry out for something I could never provide. I really wondered what the difference was between organic and regular eggs, besides the color difference. Maybe if they were natural brown instead of white they had more nutrients in them? Kind of like wheat bread was better for you versus white bread? Either way I hope this recipe works out. I was a terrible cook and I knew it, as did my boyfriend whom I found somehow always managed to have already eaten when he came home from work at night when he knew I would be making him something. He always joked with me how terrible of a mother I would be if we had children together. A joke, I hoped, would never become a reality. I was awful at house chores and if asked what the difference was between a mop and a broom I wouldn't be able to tell you. Luckily, we were fortunate enough to have hired help. Hired help that today had decided to get herself sick with mono and not show. The audacity of some people.
Our gas stove had way too many buttons and in search of the right one I lit the wrong stove top which in turn set my sleeve on fire. In blind, white terror I felt someone else take control of my body and take me over to the sink, running cold water all over my sleeve to put the flames out. But it was too late, and the room had already filled with the putrid smell of burning fibers, my sleeve gently smoldering in the after flames. I might have heard the smoke detector beep somewhere in the distance, but it could have been those chicks hatching as well, immediately needing me.
Suddenly she was six again, watching her mother from the corner of the kitchen, baby fat legs stretched out against the cold tiles of the floor, her Barbie dolls spread around her like an army, she, the general. The room was eerily dark, with a spring thunderstorm just outside the window, threatening the strength of it with loud claps of thunder, the only light provided by candles taken home from church. There was at least a dozen of them spread around the room, flickering shadows against the water-damaged walls.. The country was poor and the electricity scarce, so the solution was to have a period of lights-off time and it had been decided that the night before Easter would be one of these times.
Her mother had her back turned to Nika, slowly boiling the eggs inside her old stockings, a clover leaf placed inside each one against the fragile shell of the egg, so that when they were colored, each would have a symbol of luck outlined into its protruding belly. The gas stove beneath her sputtered to live as it gasped for air. A silky green kimono was draped over her mother's silhouette figure, the woman beneath it sustaining of only legs and long blonde hair. Long hair that just barely grazed the nostrils of an ominous dragon that hugged the kimono on which it was threaded into.
The dragon's yellow eyes bore into Nika, watching her every move as she introduced Barbie to Ken. She could almost smell the fire that would in any second burst forth from its fiery nostrils, engulfing the room in light. She yearned for more light, for brightness, so that Ken could see the beauty of Barbie's face, see how her blue eyes sparkled. But no matter how much she dared the dragon to burst forth in rage, no matter how many bad things she did behind her mother's back in hopes of fiery reprimand, it never moved. The dragon just stared at her with amber eyes, the lighting bouncing off them like jewels in a pond, catching the sun's rays.
She wondered if that was how her mother made magic. If wearing the dragon could make her powerful and able to breathe fire into the cauldron of bloody red water. She always said the eggs were magical in some way, that they represented Jesus and God. Maybe it was the dragon that made them so special. If she only dared to get up and hug her mother, ask her about the magic of the red eggs, beg and plead with her until she taught her as well. But she wouldn't, she knew she wouldn't. It was the dragon's eyes and the smell of it's fire that kept her back, making sure she faced it at all times and never turn her back to it so if it decided to bite her, she would be ready for its long-overdue discipline.
I can't believe I still remember her. It's been so long since I had last seen her, especially with hair that wasn't spotted with gray but with gold instead. I had left the sink running and the marble floor beneath me had somehow become a lot closer than I felt it being before. It had been years since I can recall being able to hug my mother, to be close to her, to smell her skin. Once again, she has left me smoldering on the kitchen floor, except this time there was no dragon to be scared of, no yellow eyes that questioned my being, all that was left was what was contained in my mind, a memory that would soon be suffocated and put out like all else.