She looked at the frozen block of mince, uninspired and frustrated.
As per usual, she’d left it too late. She hadn’t remembered to pull it out of the freezer the night before, too harried as she relived her busy day over in her head. She had also forgotten that morning, too focussed on just getting out of the damn house to be thinking about dinner. She barely remembered to eat breakfast these days anyway.
She forced the mince into the smaller half of the sink, jamming her fingers between the icy block and the faucet. Of course. She was just trying to keep it together, do something nice, and it comes back to bite her.
She couldn’t remember whether the advice she had read was to wash it with warmth or keep it cool. Everyone had their own opinion anway. So she did as best as she could, she tried to be sensible and feel her way through. In almost no time at all she found herself caught between two extremes – realising too late that she’d made the water was too warm, smarting at the sting, cooling down too much and too quickly – welcome back the reflexive return of too much heat too soon, overcompensate, repeat.
Before she realised she was doing it, she was clawing pieces off the edges.
Watered down, grey lumps, wrist deep in fat.
She squeezed it out as best as she could, cursed the icy shards that refused to dissolve, let the small discrepancies fester in the sink, and placed the remains in a bowl. Cover it up. Hide it away.
She started chopping the onion, cursing the bitter tears she couldn’t hold back.
She grated a carrot, catching her knuckle on the blade. Another piece of her taken away, lost, given to another without return.
She mixed through some breadcrumbs, blended from the loaf she had bought the week before – a fleeting moment of excited anticipation, picturing the great meals it would complement. Left and forgotten. Stale and old.
And now the mix was too dry.
She beat in an egg, an attempt to bind it back together. She knew it was going to fail. But she knew she had to at least follow the right steps.
She formed the patties. Four solid forms, two for two. She pinched together the leftovers, considered their worth, and threw them in the bin.
She flicked on the cook top and heated the pan. The olive oil smoked and she remembered her parents telling her not to cook in it, it gives you cancer. Funny how following the steps you were raised on will only bring you trouble.
One by one, she placed them into the pan.
One by one she watched them fall apart.
Burnt on the outside, red raw in the middle. An uninviting mess.
She heard the tone of the answering machine over the dull groan of the exhaust.
She considered his features in the wedding photo, sitting proudly on the shelf beside the sink.
She listened. She knew he was never planning on coming home tonight anyway.
She went back to bed.