UNBENDABLE EMA

SHAWN MCCLURE

 
 

Ema could read the future with almost unerring accuracy, but somehow, she never saw the breakup coming. This made her angry enough to explode. They haggled and divvied shared possessions for a month beforehand, but when Ema left, she only took the spoons.
 

*

 
It wasn’t a collection per se, but rather an accumulation of useful objects, each unique in its design and acquisition. Each was a memory, a milestone from her life and her life alone.
 
The first was a teaspoon from her childhood. It had a fancy monogram G on the handle. It arrived in her first apartment in a box of mismatched kitchen items her mother had collected in a plastic tote, a dollar store hope chest for her daughter’s new life in the city.
 
The next was one of her favorites. She couldn’t believe the chick who lived downstairs would get rid of such a lovely spoon. She threw out such great piles of junk when she moved out that the landlady had to hire a guy to carry it to the curb. Ema nabbed a lot of stuff from the heap, most of it unmemorable. The antique silver spoon was a keeper, and Ema loved it because it dug through many dense pints of Häagen Dazs without ever bending.
 
The antique silver spoon had a slotted sister that Ema acquired from an old Irishman selling the contents of his attic at the flea market. Ema stood there admiring his frayed box of bent rusties for a long time, until she spotted the muted gleam of tarnished perfection. It was hers, for only 50 cents and a half an hour of brogued flirtations.
 
There were a few others, mostly of practical stainless. There was one with a trinity of rosettes, another that appeared, hailing from nowhere, a mysterious orphan with a braid. There was a group home spoon, a dollar store spoon, a Blue Moon Diner spoon, and a Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast spoon. That one held memories, for sure.
 
After the breakup, Ema wouldn’t admit she was hurt. She went on strike, refusing to read anyone’s future or consult her Tarot cards. She quit her job at Cosmic Crystals, and set up housekeeping in a new place, out of the city, nearer to the sea. She hurled down some Five-Below rag rugs onto the floor, pounded a suction cup shower caddy to the wall, and slammed her spoons into the kitchen drawer. This was home now. Then she went down to the Ocean and did something that otherwise might have been too hard. She wiggled a spoon-shaped ring from her finger and threw it into the waves. As much as she loved that ring, she couldn’t stand to wear any of the jewelry Mr. Bastard had given her.
 
*

 
Soon after, Ema adopted an orange tabby. He came to her in the winter, on a day so windy his fur lifted with every gust. He walked in like he owned the place and defused Ema’s anger with his gluttonous desire for hot milk and naps on Ema’s electric blanket. He also brought back her powers. He kept appearing in her dream, speaking without opening his whiskered mouth, telling Ema to let it go already. She named him Fuse.
 
Ema didn’t listen to Fuse at first. She beat back potential glimpses of the future with pure stubbornness. One morning, she woke up from another dream of Fuse casually advising her to chill. She banged open the cabinets with slightly less force than usual and made coffee. In the kitchen drawer, the sight of her spoons made her sad. Like a dying star, her rage returned and condensed into something white-hot and explosive. She took a spoon to stir the sugar into her coffee, held it in front of her and hated it with all she could muster. And slowly, it bent. Ema threw it down and reached for the next. The dollar store spoon, it bent easily. She took another. It absorbed her rage until it was shaped like a boomerang, but it did not come back at her when she threw it. It just landed uselessly behind the bookcase. One after another, the spoons bowed from the force of Ema’s mind. Even that sturdy little soup spoon from the Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast gave in. Only that antique silver spoon would not bend. Maybe Ema was too exhausted by then, or maybe the spoon was magic. She might never know.
 
Then again, she might figure it out one day. She relaxed on her electric blanket with Fuse, digging Dulce de Leche ice cream out of the carton with her unbendable spoon, so thoroughly unangry that the future, once again, began to show itself.

 

 
 

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