Gazing inside of a ripening teakettle, Alex caught a glimpse of the inner workings of something that once seemed so simple. Outside of the glistening steel contraption all was calm with only a slight sweat forming near the spout, where the kettle would yell when ready.
As he stared through the mouth of the heating metal, Alex thought he saw a blue something that was neither turbulent water nor stainless steel. He stood completely still, lying in wait for the visual incongruity to show itself again. He massaged his eyes in confusion and traced the outlines of the bags that were developing beneath them; bi-products of sleep deprivation. Maybe he was just seeing things again. Ever since his roommate Jeff killed himself, he had lost all interest in sleep, yet could barely find the energy to leave his bed; a dreary paradox.
He told himself it was nothing and chalked it up to the sudden head rush of standing up; he had been lying in bed most of the day, wallowing in the dark shroud that escaped his thoughts. He didn’t see the blue light again, but he couldn’t escape the trance he’d gotten into. Crouched over, focusing on the dancing water, brown hair sticking to his temples. He felt the increase in his hearts tempo, knocking on his ribs, asking for permission to race. His mind reeled with the increased oxygen now merrily traveling his intricate highway of blood vessels. With each hurried breath he took, more strings of the past started to stitch into his thought process. It was only two weeks ago that he found Jeff lying dead in the very kitchen he was planning to make tea in. A cramped four by ten area occupying itself with the bare essentials; an aged electric stove, a yellowed refrigerator from the 80’s, and a sink overflowing with dishes that seemed to multiply like bacteria, though Alex was barely eating.
The kettle continued to build energy and the water vapor that escaped formed a warming mist on Alex’s forehead. Each new droplet of warm condensation brought with it another image he was trying to escape. His heart pumped more and more with each thought. When did Jeff buy those pills? Why didn’t he talk to me about his issues? I can’t believe he would do this. Alex questioned the last time he had spoken with anyone since he had unknowingly encapsulated himself in an impermeable layer of silence, partly because he could not pay his phone or internet bill now that Jeff was gone.
The kettle wanted to talk with him, at least that’s what he told himself as the vapor excitedly flowed out. Since the spout was open for Alex to see through, the kettle wasn’t allowed to scream. His palms were getting sweaty and his heartbeat was in his ears, whispering how this is the most alive he’s felt since the death. He knew the perfect solution to both his and the kettle’s problems.
The boiling water hit his lips. He had to drink it quickly otherwise their conversation would drag on; he was never a fan of long pointless talks. It only burned for the first few mouthfuls and he reveled at the fact that there was finally something that understood him. He wished he could fill his lungs with the expressive power of the water but it would only travel down his esophagus, eventually making its way into his empty stomach, scarring all it would interact with.
Kelvin Reyes is a senior interdisciplinary humanities major with a minor in writing. He enjoys long walks away from the beach and binge watching TV shows. He was the nonfiction editor for this issue, and he served on the visual arts boards.