James Valvis

short fiction

The Egg Thing

1. A man eats eggs his whole life, but what does he think about them? Nothing. Or very little. He likes eggs, or he endures them, or he avoids them whenever possible. Then one day he thinks about eggs. Eggs. Jesus. Eggs. Of all things to get hung up on. Last week it was tapirs, but now it's eggs.

2. And suddenly it seems odd eggs are put in things like cake and bread. Eggs are chickens that didn't work out, and so every cake using eggs, in a sense, is a chicken cake. He is sitting at a table with his family when this occurs to him and it takes all his willpower not to tell his mother-in-law, who made a cake especially for him, she put a chicken in his cake. Unfortunately, he runs out of willpower and says it anyway.

3. They do not understand. His wife and her incredible ears, daughter who thinks “derp” is a real word, father-in-law who carefully scissors out cartoons to save for later, and especially the old woman who as a child saw her nation go mad and try to kill the only people who can make a decent rye bread. They have not considered eggs. They are good respectable people.

4. He tells his wife as a boy his friends used to leave eggs in sunlight for three days before hurling them at house doors. Because why not? Because you could. Because a rotten egg offered a shell and a stink. Eggs were ghetto grenades. Chicken grenades. It left a stain more humiliating than blood.

5. He tells his daughter, though there are many different sizes and shapes of eggs, we all know what egg-shaped means. In this way, eggs are like everything else.

6. He tells himself, mumbling, his grandmother would serve him soft-boiled eggs for breakfast. She cracked them open with a spoon and scraped out whites and yolks, flavored them with salt and pepper, and poured him a glass of milk. He has since patronized a thousand restaurants and has never tasted better eggs. On every menu he is warned undercooked eggs might lead to illness and lawsuits, so too damn bad. Or something like that.

7. Several days later he is informed by his frowning mother-in-law eggs Benedict are not in fact egg traitors.

8. Anticipating the question, his wife tells him neither are they egg popes.

9. His daughter wants to know when he is going to stop obsessing over eggs. And chickens. It's getting really annoying, she says. She wishes he wasn't such a derp.

James Valvis has placed poems or stories in Ploughshares, Arts & Letters, River Styx, Evansville Review, Southern Indiana Review, Tar River Poetry, The Sun, and many others. His poetry was featured in Verse Daily. His fiction was chosen for Sundress Best of the Net. A former US Army soldier, he lives near Seattle, where he refuses to ever throw a fish.

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