Popcorn

by Roberto Reyna

Martin rolled off his bed, firmly planted both feet on the ground and felt the soles of his feet press down on the floor. A consistent glow filled the room, originating from a bedside lamp with a shade that seemed comically large. Outside, the boy’s home was already asleep, his eyes took a few moments to adjust to the shift in light, then he was off.

The stairs groaned louder than they ever had before, annoyed at the child’s rudeness. The final step decided to retract by about two inches, causing Martin to slide off, sending a shock of pain up from his heel into his hip. Martin did not blame the step for reacting so coarsely in a situation that could’ve been solved by a civilized conversation. Martin was a smart boy, he knew that not all household objects could be reasoned with.

The kitchen was lit by streetlights that leaked in through the windows and digital clocks that blinked an inaccurate time. The actual time was a mystery to Martin, but it didn’t really matter, it rarely does. He made his way to a cabinet and woke the hinges, quickly reaching into the darkness, immediately locating a bag of microwave popcorn. The bag read ‘Microwave Popcorn’ on the side that was meant to face down during preparation. If this label were indeed the bag’s face, it would need to be able to hold its breath from anywhere between two and a half to three and a half minutes—an impressive feat. After disposing of the clear plastic wrapping surrounding his treasure, Martin opened the microwave door and carefully positioned the bag, possibly face-down, as instructed. The door closed with a snap and in no time at all, the warm light covered the boy’s face as he sat and watched the bag rotate.

A steady drone emitted from the machine, and Martin watched carefully, inspecting the bag’s constant movement, never disrupting his gaze with even so much as a blink. Suddenly, a pop, another pop, and another. The pops quickly overlapped and sang a symphony that must’ve been unique to any bag of microwave popcorn to ever have popped before. A slight smile found its way onto the boy’s face as he closed his eyes and enjoyed the music, he swayed slowly, releasing his body to its natural movement in accordance with the sound. The pops sped up, slowed down and then sped up again, a display of their complete spontaneity. Steadily, more silence filled the space between pops, until the sound stopped all together. Martin pressed a red button on the microwave and took a moment to collect himself. He stood up and made his way back up the stairs, careful not to be tripped again.

The next morning, the house was early to rise, and with it, Martin’s mother. She made her way downstairs, greeted by warm rays of sunshine filtering through the blinds of the kitchen. She bent over to glance at the microwave, opened its door, removed the bag of popcorn, and muttered under her breath, “Not again”.

Roberto is a student at Haverford college who has always had a love for fiction. He can be followed on Twitter or Instagram, or contacted directly (rfreyna@gmail.com).

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