Cooking For One – Flash Fiction
I’ll be honest. I’m still a little confused about what goes into flash fiction pieces.
I’ve looked it up and read different things about it. From what I can gather, flash fiction is generally considered a self-contained story that is less than 1,000 words in length. It can be in any genre, about any subject matter, cover any length of time or space. But it must be a complete story within the limits of word count.
I’m still a little iffy on whether there’s a low end to the word count. Wikipedia says the lower end is around 300 words, which I can understand. So I thought I’d try my hand at some flash fiction within the parameters of a 300-1000 word limit.
So with no further ado, here’s my little flash fiction piece for your viewing pleasure.
Cooking Like You’re Single
I’ve always thought it would be easier to cook better when I was out on my own. At home, my mom was always a little slow on the uptake. Growing up, she had troubles boiling water and frying eggs, let alone making a complete meal for dinner. One time she tried to make pork chops–at least, I think they were pork chops–and managed to almost set fire to the entire kitchen. Dad came charging in with the fire extinguisher blazing, and mom looked like she’d gone swimming in sticky snow.
Now that I’m on my own, though, I’m not so sure I was right.
The refrigerator’s full of things I never ate at home. Even on our worst nights, Mom always had something cooked. But at 27 it’s hard to justify spending money on something delicious to eat when I know it’s only me eating it.
I look in the fridge and see the items I picked out for dinner tonight. I need to begin cooking. It’ll take a bit more time than I’m used to spending on my dinner.
Maybe it’s because I’m single at 27 and have no prospects. I didn’t plan things this way, and if Ben hadn’t left, things would have been my way. I heard recently that he got married to that girl from his accounting firm. Apparently they’re very happy together.
I pull out the purple plate. It’s chilled nicely since I put it in there earlier. Behind it is the vegetables. That’s what I need. The water’s already boiling.
When I left home, I wanted to do well at my job, find a man, get married, and have kids. I did well at my job; I’ve even gotten three promotions in the three years I’ve been here. But the rest of my goals kind of tapered off after Ben, and I fell into the single slump.
It was only supposed to last a few months. Find a new guy, start dating again, and get back on track. That’s what Jessica told me she did, and now she’s engaged. Unfortunately, there was no new guy. And if there was, he got lost along the way, and I started to classify things into categories of “Do After Marriage” and “Do Pre-Marriage.” Somehow cooking got thrown into the “Do After Marriage” category.
A lot of things fell into that category that I never intended. Traveling, going on vacations, cooking well, taking care of myself–all good things that never should have made that list. My vacation time has been piling up since I started working. It rolls over, so I’ve collected almost two weeks of time I can use.
I check the timer. Thirty minutes left on the oven. Walking out the back door, I carry a lighter and quickly light the gas grill.
When did I start thinking that everything had to wait for marriage? I’ve had dreams since I was a kid, and I’ve managed to just shove them aside instead of actually trying to achieve any of them. When did a man become crucial to my plans?
It’s been a long time, but I think I’m ready to live my life now.
An hour later, I’m sitting in front of the TV watching Take the Lead while cutting a steak. The baked potato and steamed asparagus are delicious, and the wine tastes fruity. The movie shifts in scene to one that’s familiar, and the tickets for the Caribbean cruise I booked are sitting on the coffee table next to me. I signed up for ballroom dance lessons on the cruise–I’ve always wanted to take ballroom dance.
Looking at my meal, I realize cooking like you’re single doesn’t have to mean popping a TV dinner in the microwave. Maybe cooking like you’re single means doing for yourself what you’d do for your husband before you meet him. Or maybe it just means eating well because you’re worth it.
Either way, I like this cooking like you’re single.
I have no idea how long that is. If it’s longer than a flash fiction piece is allowed to be, sue me. And it’s probably not a proper flash fiction piece, but I enjoyed writing it.
Anyway, I just wanted to throw that out there. Take it for what it is: a very quick piece written specifically for your viewing pleasure. Oh, and on a side note, I made steak, a baked potato, and steamed asparagus for my very alone dinner tonight. And I watched Take the Lead as well; unfortunately, the whole unemployed status makes it impossible to schedule that cruise, but I’ll do it someday!
(All flash fiction pieces are copyright 2010 to Rae Reneau. Please do not repost without acquiring permission from me to do so.)