When I was at university I studied narrative non-fiction, and our assignments included studying the voices of other writers, and trying to find your own unique voice. When I don’t have any ideas, or when I’m too busy with everyday things to knock out some kick ass prose, I try to write about ordinary things. In A Writer’s Voice by A. Alvarez, he wrote that Voice is the key to a writer’s work, that sound which is unique to the writer, something special that cannot necessarily be pinpointed, but jumps off the page. I try to make life jump off the page, out of the frying pan, into the fire, or just flying around the living room.
The man in the kitchen (and he wears the trousers)
The sound of him sharpening the knives in the kitchen made her hair stand on end. It made her teeth itch to the bone. It was grand of him to cook for her on a daily basis, but did he have to cause her so much discomfort?
“What are you making?” she dared ask.
“Oh, fuckit,” he said. “The onions.” The sting of sliced red onions reached her too where she was sitting at her desk, typing.
“Well, this is turning out to be a riveting story, my love,” he remarked as he gazed over her shoulder at the words on the page.
“Well you could give me something else to write about, something more exciting perhaps?”
“You’re not writing a story, you’re just reporting. Who are you going to sell this to, some post-modernist …?”
The rest of it disappeared as he squeezed the olive oil into the pan to cook the chicken. His specialty since university, chicken breasts and vegetables. As he rummaged around the kitchen, the chicken started to sizzle, and filled the tiny apartment with smells of freshly crushed garlic, onions, and lemon juice.
Seasoning was very important to him. He never dished up anything without the right amount of salt and pepper and lemon juice. His food was always healthy, healthier than hers. The other night she cooked him fried sausages in tomato stew. His housemate from university would have approved. Tim had always been a sausages and beans kinda guy, and he not-so-secretly despised anything with vegetables, including the risotto that had caused so many problem in their house that final year.
“It’s just rice with chicken stock and bits of feta,” he had complained to her, but she was too in love to notice and besides, she was living on a diet of two-minute-noodles and coffee and cigarettes at the time.
“The components should be delicious. It’s chicken and broccoli and onions, and tomatoes now,” he remarked about his masterpiece, as curious curry smells teased her nostrils. Then he started singing, slightly off-key, songs from his grade four lesson plan. “Don’t do that, don’t do that, hmmm, hmmm, don’t do that.”
She got up from her seat to see what the source of all the smells looked like, and her eyes started to salivate at the luscious colours: cascading yellows over browns, sweltering reds on greens, peppered with blacks and purples and tinges of orange.
Then, the ting, the impatient voice bellowing, “Loveykins, please, for the love of God, food’s ready.”
Fuckit, she said, hunger took over, and the story ended.
The man did speak, after all.