A Spoon’s Life
The mother, Shanice, liked Lilly the best. But then, no other spoon looked as beautiful. She rested in a plastic bin on the kitchen counter along with the other spoons – big ones used for serving, round soup spoons, and other one-of-a-kinds that the father, Andres, used to stir his morning coffee and scarf down oatmeal.
Lilly’s slender silver body shown brightly after being washed and rubbed dry by Shanice. The father and children, Nia and Deion, seldom got near the kitchen sink, even though Shanice asked them often to help wash the dishes.
Mornings, after the father left for work and the children for school, Shanice and Lilly spent an hour at the kitchen table. Shanice read a book and used Lilly to ever so slowly stir her hot tea. The mother drank green or black teas, depending on her mood, with honey to sweeten. The green stuff didn’t stain the teacups as much, nor tarnish Lilly’s silver skin. But Shanice liked the black tea better.
On a cold winter’s morning with frost on the windows, Shanice woke earlier than usual and dressed in a business suit. For breakfast, she drank ginger tea, to “settle my stomach” she told her husband. She chewed on a piece of dry toast, then left the apartment. Andres poured cereal for the children and helped them get ready for school. He fixed his own coffee and oatmeal, using Lilly to stir gritty sugar into his black coffee. Ugh!
Before leaving the apartment, Andres washed the dishes and silverware and left them to dry in the racks and bins on the kitchen counter. He had a rough touch that Lilly didn’t like, and he didn’t dry her off with the soft towel before dumping her into the bin. But worst of all, he didn’t return her to her family of spoons but wedged her in with the KNIVES AND FORKS! Lilly thought she would die.
“What’re you doin’ here?” a knife with a dangerous-looking wavy blade asked.
A fork with long prongs chuckled. “Yeah, aren’t you afraid you’ll get all scratched being with us?”
“You spoons always think you’re so hot,” the knife said, “so much better than us stickers and slicers.”
Lilly shivered and cowered in a corner of the bin.
Another fork joined in. “There are good reasons why I’m used the most at supper. Sticking sliced carrots is so much easier than chasing them around the plate with a spoon.”
Hearing all their criticism, Lilly couldn’t stay quiet. “Oh yeah, I’ve seen you forks trying to spear green peas – what a joke. Can any of you stir coffee or tea the right way and let Shanice or Andres taste a sample? Has Shanice or Andres ever tried eating soup, pudding, or ice cream with a knife or fork?”
The wavy knife laughed. “Actually, I once saw Andres try eating Jello with a fork. Talk about hilarious.”
A butter knife with a crooked blade spoke up. “Look, sister, I know how you feel. I cut only the softest things – but I’m good at slicing bananas and spreading peanut butter or mayonnaise. And when Shanice needs to pry open a pickle jar, or even tighten a loose screw, she comes for me.”
“You’re the one with the screw loose,” the wavy knife cracked. “I’m the only one that can cut food into bite-sized chunks. Without me, the whole family be eating nothing but tofu.”
A shudder went through everyone in the bin, even Lilly, who had only touched the stuff once. The chatter continued off and on among the silverware until Shanice came home in the afternoon. By that time, Lilly no longer feared the knives and forks.
Shanice seemed nervous and began pacing the kitchen floor, muttering to herself. Lilly had never seen her like that and couldn’t tell whether she was happy or sad. Shanice stopped pacing and boiled some water for chamomile tea. She searched the spoon bin for Lilly, but couldn’t find her. She looked around the kitchen for the wayward utensil. Finally, she checked the knives and forks bin and rescued her.
“Adios, doll face,” the wavy knife called after Lilly. “Stop by again.”
“Yes, please do,” said the kind butter knife. “We should do a soup and sandwich lunch sometime.”
That night the whole family seemed excited. Shanice had found a job in a lawyers’ office, working three days a week. Andres ordered take-out food from an Italian restaurant. Shanice set their tiny kitchen table with a white tablecloth and their best plates. She polished each piece of silverware and placed the forks on the left side of the plates next to fancy cloth napkins. Andres took down two wine glasses from a top cabinet along with a dusty bottle of Cabernet. He lit candles and set them in the table’s centre.
“Wow, it’s been a long time since they’ve had us all on the table,” the wavy knife said. He rested next to Lilly on the right side of the plate.
The butter knife rested on a dish with crunchy Italian bread and a container of margarine. “Yes, this meal should be fun. And we’ll all be a part of it.”
“Yeah,” the long-pronged fork said, “we can all be heroes tonight, each one doing what we do best.”
The food disappeared quickly. Lilly worked with the fork to serve long slippery noodles to Shanice. By the end of the meal, tomato sauce spotted the entire table and the children’s grinning faces. Their excited voices filled the kitchen but quieted to a dull rumble after Andres served up yummy gelato for dessert.
As they all sat back in their chairs, Shanice picked up her fork and tapped her wine glass. The ringing quieted the children.
“Okay. My new job will help pay the bills, will let us have more fun, and maybe, just maybe go on a vacation.”
Nia and Deion clapped their hands.
“But since I’ll be working three days a week, you will need to help me take care of the apartment, fix meals and such.”
Andres and the kids groaned.
“I know, it means chores for all of you, but I’ll ask each of you to do things that I think you can do best.”
“I’ll help,” Nia said. “Me too,” said Deion. Andres nodded in agreement.
Afterwards, the kids cleared the table and dumped all of the silverware into the sink. One by one, Deion scrubbed each knife, fork and spoon with a sponge and handed it to Nia who dried it with the soft towel and placed it in the proper bin. Lilly enjoyed their touch and liked it when Nia placed her in the correct bin with the other spoons.
The kitchen lights clicked off. The children went to their room to do homework, then joined their parents to watch TV or play on the computer. All felt right with the silverware, and Lilly rested easy, waiting for the morning and a new meal to feed the family.