The Soup (the impossible domestic gesture prompt)

by | Jan 13, 2023

The rat I had feared but not seen (for two years) decided to make me dinner. The beans he had stolen and hoarded in the walls, re-appeared one by one. He added them to the turquoise microwave-safe bowl, bean by bean, over the course of several weeks. At night, in the dark, still unseen. I’d find them each morning and count them as they accrued in the bowl. First there were three, just kidneys, then seven. The next day, 20, with the addition of navy beans, my favorite. Sometimes I’d guess how many and if I was close, reward myself with coffee sweetener or avocado on my toast. This went on for a couple of weeks. Soup preparation for rats, is a slow process.

You might think I’m kooky. And if I didn’t see him, how could I know it was a rat and not a goblin, a poltergeist, a hairy man in a dirty apron, or someone’s insomniac grandmother? Sometimes you just know things. Trust me.

The bean accruals continued for days until late one night, I heard rustling, the kettle whistling, and the hairs stood up on my arms. Did he know where the bullion was? The dried garlic and onions? Would he add some ajwain to reduce gas and bloating? Did he like the new magnetic spice racks stuck hard to the refrigerator? Did he follow my grandmother’s recipe, use my cookbooks, or just improvise? How would he know what I like in my soup? I suppose I should trap him, see what he looks like at least, or chase him with a broom or large vase, but I didn’t have the balls, the heart, the something. In the morning I woke to the savory smell of soup, it lifted me up out of my bed, I floated through the kitchen on the rich aroma remembering what it was like to be pampered, cooked for, cared for. It had been so long. Then I drifted towards the door, grabbed the house keys hanging from the wall, tossed them on the counter, and whispered, “here, it’s all yours now” as I wafted out the door into the frigid air.


    • Robyn Schelenz

      don’t apologize! it’s great to get to know everyone and get acquainted with their selves and style. i’m so impressed by everyone!

  1. Benjamin Niespodziany

    This rat tale takes you on a journey! I really enjoyed this one. Great opening sentence and great progression and development throughout.

    The second stanza I could almost do without? It’s a bit of a different tone, calling attention back to yourself, while the rest mainly focuses on the soups and the smells. I’d suggest something like “This went on for a couple of weeks. Soup preparation for rats is a slow process.” *new paragraph* “Late one night, I heard rustling…” I’m also a bit thrown by the departure at the end. Does the main character finally receive this love and care and can die happy so he dips? I almost wanted to see it end on the rich emotional tone of “It had been so long.” I think it would add a tender touch that is so nicely contrasted by…a cooking rat. Floating following the smells made me think of old cartoons in the best of ways. Great tale! Like a Ratatouille sequel or something haha

  2. Meg Tuite

    Hi Koss,
    This is a wild, beautiful tale! I do think you could take out the 2nd paragraph. The 1st and 3rd move like music! It’s gorgeous and fun! LOVE IT!

  3. Robyn Schelenz

    i really enjoy this story and particularly love the first paragraph. i might suggest leaning into the minutiae of the preparation and bean gathering even more, potentially piling on details. i want to live in the suspense of the rat’s preparation process! and having lived in one garage apartment with a huge mouse problem (ugh), this really hits home as a reversal of how we live with them … like so much of us, or me anyway, really wants to love and care for them if that could work! and the opening line gives you a perfect entry into that reversal. this concept is so strong. i’d read a novella of this!

    • Koss (No Last Name)

      Thanks for the input, and I’m glad this resonated with you. It could be a novella if the author hadn’t floated out into the frigid air. Haha.

      • Robyn Schelenz

        the smell of good food has waylaid my best intentions and plans before … you never know, ahahah. 🙂

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