New Neighbors

Mandira Pattnaik

in a new normal, is a cauldron. Always boiling. Two souls, okay, two bodies, combined, and put in a two-room apartment next to mine. Conditioned in salt and pepper, between toil and tears. Throw in a spell without work for either, a wailing bundle just too soon. We’re placed on a slow burning stove. If you happen to be here, smell it burning. A recipe failed. The other day, I overheard — their dough just too gooey. They were trying to retrieve bits. Weather turned soon enough, pans and ladles flew; shout and screams echoing back from the walls. I’m mapping out ‘where else’ scenarios, because I need to finish the only project I have at hand. I’ll be thinking out rental budgets while I’m out for a smoke. I hope they know what’s ruined is ruined. Maybe they’ll be adding wine or love; but, I’m sure, the baby will wail still and the man will be shouting more. She’ll try crying; let the whole thing simmer. She’ll be checking for tips/shortcuts, realize there aren’t any. If you’re one of us, you’ll meet her and me at the snaking queue for employment registration at the JFK Library one of these mornings. We’ll all be trying to start all over again. Quickly realize it’s no use. It might not be the worst yet.

Mandira Pattnaik writes short fiction and poetry. Recent publications include Splonk, PanoplyzineCabinetofHeed, Lunate, BrilliantFlash and Spelk. Twitter: @MandiraPattnaik.