Short Fiction: Justin Tate – Before the Clock Strikes Six (2016)

Re-printed with permission by the author

A woman preps in a kitchen. Like a robot, her movements are both jittery and fluid from repetition. She reaches into cabinets with urgency, gathering oils, jars, utensils and cookware. Ladles and tongs rattle in her grasp. A package of flour slips, bursts and clouds the air. The refrigerator is emptied onto the counter, one item at a time, all in a row. She plucks a few spices from the rack, reconsiders, and brings down the complete set. Her eyes dart toward the huge grandfather clock in the living room. It is five minutes before five.

She surveys the ingredients scattered about the counter. There is no logic to the array, it is simply all that she can find. Tonight she is preparing a new recipe from an old book. Anything can happen.

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