Jack Hernandez and Barbara Bever

Apple of His Eye ... An Apple for an Eye

An Apple for an Eye

ATC-Format (Mixed Media, Gel Image Transfer)


The Apple of His Eye

By Barbara Bever

Night time is the worst…the only sounds in the kitchen are the humming of the refrigerator, the occasional batch of ice clattering into the bin in the freezer, the whirring of the fan of the water distiller, and the tick-tock,-tick-tock of the clock on the wall above me. That constant ticking is enough to drive me crazy, but not as bad as the night the faucet dripped. I’ve been spared that torture since the blond lady named Madam closes up the kitchen and turns out the lights.

Mornings are better. The curtains are opened and I feel the warmth of sunshine once again on my ruddy skin. Madam and Sir keep me company at the counter and the aromas of coffee and bacon fill the air. Sir often glances my way, but when Madam talks he turns toward her instead. I can never see the dog they call Rosie, but I hear her chain jangling and the click of her nails on the tile floor as she roams about the kitchen. I know she eats and drinks here, too. I now recognize the tinny sound of water filling up a metal bowl, the lapping of her tongue. Sometimes she drinks a lot. Two scoops of kibble clang into another metal bowl. Rosie crunches noisily. When I was still living with my family in the orchard I often enjoyed the sights and sounds of children and dogs playing at our feet. But there are no children here and Rosie only barks when a stranger arrives.

The kitchen grows quiet again. I await the pleasant sound of singing from the housekeeper as she washes up the breakfast dishes and wipes down the countertops. She often moves things around as she cleans and sometimes I’m afforded a better view or the tickle of a breeze if a window is open. She is much smaller than Madam and has dark hair. I am temporarily comforted by her happiness.

The afternoons can be long. The housekeeper is gone. Sir won’t be home until dinner. And Madam spends the hot stretch of the day tapping away in another room. Sometimes Rosie wanders in and out of the kitchen, a reassuring presence that I am not alone. I content myself with finding a rhythm in the cacophony of cars sounds on the street below.

When the muezzin sings his mid-day call to prayer, I know the cook will soon arrive. This is the best time of the day. The kitchen becomes abuzz with activity. The cook is tall and lean and carries the regal air of his Nubian ancestry. I love the staccato chop-chop of his steel blade. Onions and potatoes, peppers and tomatoes, oranges and mangoes, all change shape and form on the cutting board. He grunts as he lifts heavy pots onto the stove. Wild aromas waft my way but the room grows hot and steamy. I fear I will wilt like the vegetables now sautéing in the frying pan.

Just before dinner is served, a stillness pervades the kitchen. The cook seems to disappear, yet I recognize his soft chanting to someone named Allah. I’m reassured he is nearby. The heavy air dissipates and I nestle securely in my basket, comforted by the peacefulness of these prayers. The cook will soon enough be busy coming and going, then banging pots and pans in the sink. The hard glare of the overhead lights soon matches the grating sound of metal on metal as leftovers are scraped into various bowls and containers. These are neatly tucked away in the refrigerator.

A single light now shines over the sink casting long shadows over the countertop and a creeping loneliness into my basket. I thought I was special when Madam chose me from the bin of look-a-likes. She surely had a special future planned for me. But I just sit her day and night and my bottom is getting tender and sore. I dread the long night ahead, but at least tonight a light is left on.

I perk up when Sir suddenly appears. He’s glancing about the kitchen. I’m here, I’m here, I try to shout. He opens the refrigerator, and closes it again. He opens a cupboard and closes it again. Can’t he see I’m right here? He pops open a can of nuts, pours out a handful, leans his head back and tosses them into his mouth. He moves toward the doorway, then suddenly turns back towards the counter. His eyes grow a bit brighter when he spots me. He plucks me from my basket, tossing me up lightly with joy and satisfaction. A smile appears in his lips. His hot breath upon my skin chills me at first. He rubs me vigorously against the softness of his shirt. I’m warm all over and glowing from this love and attention. He moves me closer to his mouth again and I’m sure I’m going to be kissed. Crunch! Suddenly, I’m surrounded by a pain fiercer than any loneliness. Who knew that love hurts?