Check the plug on your tablet. Pair the remote with wooden pencils, dried marigolds with your tweezers. Wiggle your gnarly feet. Find the postage scale and weigh the toenail clippings you’ve saved this year in an old airmail envelope. Clean the stove with a sponge sour with spills and longing. Pair it with the radio with the broken antenna. Delete the language app that nags you to practice. Check the plug on your tablet. Check Yummly to see what you can do with that tomato at the back of your fridge. Feel its potential in your hand. Smell it for that trip to Provence you never took. Jiggle the USB port on your tablet. Dissect the tomato — stem, skin, flesh, seeds. Think about the word flesh used for a vegetable that’s actually a fruit. Boil some water, blanch the tomato and peel off the skin. Cut the tomato in half from stem to stern. Do this with tenderness befitting the moment. It’s funny what, instead of who, you can be tender with during a pandemic. As you ruminate on this, carefully scoop and set the seeds aside. Watch as they cling to each other, shed a tear. Pet your old dog. Multiply her age by seven, match it against yours. Who will die first? Purge that thought, take a French bath to forget. Don’t bother to dress, but put on a raincoat. Put the remaining tomato into a mortar and pestle with some garlic and salt. This is for later. Smash and pound. As you smash and pound, you hear, “Mrs. Rogers, are you there? Mrs. Rogers? The doctor….” But you’re busy arranging gelatinous blobs of seeds on a porcelain plate meant for company, but now is just yours and yours alone.
Mikki Aronoff’s work appears or is forthcoming in The Ekphrastic Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Intima, Thimble Literary Magazine, London Reader, SurVision, Rogue Agent, Popshot Quarterly, The South Shore Review, The Fortnightly Review, Feral, The Phare, Sledgehammer Lit, Flash Boulevard, New World Writing, Emerge, and elsewhere. Her stories and poems have received Pushcart and Best Microfiction nominations.