October 10, 2008

The Ending of Pinky's Version of Pandora's Box

As she sliced the pods, she imagined them as swollen slimy worms. Each portioned segment seemed to wiggle in its own slime on the cutting board. Dora was disgusted at this hallucination, but was compelled to continue. Now lightning and thunder were shaking the windows and thick drops began to fall on the roof with a not-so-sweet plop. The okra pieces were rolled in cornmeal while the cast iron pot on the stove sizzled with grease. Dora prided herself on clean, fresh lard, but this batch was dark and sour and spattered like the not-so-sweet rain plops. The raindrops were turning into a curtain of water enveloping the house. The grease smoked and bubbled. Dora scooped the okra up with her hands and dropped them in the oil all at once. She was knocked back from the stove by leaping fingers of fire and squeals like piglets drowning. A flaming plague of affliction poured into the air. Charred bits of Envy and Malice and Spite and Revenge filled the kitchen with an unbearable odor as they struggled to escape from the windows now shattering from both Hail and Fire and Hatred. Onto beautiful Dora splattered Gout and Boils and Hemorrhoids. Stress and Rheumatism were Hatred’s filthy handmaidens. Dora was buried with the Evils of the world before they escaped into the garden and of course the county and world beyond. She realized a horror beyond imagination had been unleashed on her fellow citizens—how could so little okra contain such Wrath and Pestilence. How could her small disobedience lead to such Despair and Grief. Suddenly the rain and thunder stopped. Dora tiptoed to the stove, which was now covered in grease and filth and stench, and looked into the pot. The grease was gone. Most of the okra was gone. But at the very bottom, against the side, was one perfectly fried piece of okra—delicately browned, crisp, but with a jewel-toned green shining through the cornmeal. Dora knew that soon her husband would return, followed by the Sumners and the citizens of the county in tow—Angry. Afflicted. Maimed. Destroyed. In that one final moment of private regret, she popped into her mouth the most delicious fried morsel of okra she had ever tasted or tasted since.