Onions and Oil, by Edissa Rodriguez

The aroma of spices wafted through the kitchen. She carried a set of plates to the table, placing them across each other alongside forks and knives. She grated cheese and chopped vegetables, carefully arranging them on a platter. After she finished dicing the tomatoes, she took an onion into her hand, beginning to chop it as she had with the red fruit. 


It was hard to see. 


Her heart stung with fear from the sight of him, throat clogged with apologies and promises to do better, yet they refused to come out. He shouted and moved towards her, fingers digging into her wrist as he pulled her away from the shattered glass, down the hallway to the bedroom. 


Wiping her eyes, she cut the last onion before putting it in a bowl with the other vegetables. Kneeling, she digs through the small cupboard, arms twisting in awkward angles to lift the weight of the various pots and pans. The noise of the metal clinking together was sharp, resonating within her ears as smaller vibrations ran up her fingers. Finally grabbing the pan she needed, she stood and reached for the knob on the stove, slowly turning it counter-clockwise, hearing the faint click of the gas beginning to flow. She paused for a moment, taking in the soft whoosh of the gas igniting and the blue flames flickering to life. She placed the pan onto the heated metal grate, a faint scraping sound emitting as the metals made contact.  


It had obviously been a long day at work for her husband—he struggled to unbuckle his belt—his tie was loosened and the top buttons of his dress shirt undone. The metal buckle of his belt clinked softly as he hurriedly pulled the tongue out, a frustrated grunt as he pulled the leather free from the loops of his trousers, discarding it on their bedroom floor. There was a dizzy stagger in his step, the strong scent of cheap alcohol becoming more apparent as he neared her. 


She reached for a bottle of olive oil and slowly poured it into the pan, listening to the familiar sizzling as the oil began to heat up. The sound was soothing and familiar. Taking a deep breath, she grabbed a wooden spoon and began to stir the oil gently, watching as the surface of the golden liquid shimmered and rippled.  


Keys jangled outside.  


She straightened her posture. The door moaned, scratching against the floor as it was shoved open. Heavy footsteps entered the house, and there was a thump of a briefcase being thrown on the floor. She added the ground beef to the hot skillet. The floorboards creaked under his weight, his faint footsteps growing louder. 


The heavy footsteps stilled once he was in the kitchen doorway. The meat cooked quickly, the sound of the sizzle filling the air. He glanced at the set table before speaking with a slight slur in his words, 


I’m going to that work party, ‘member? I’ll be late. 


A drop of hot oil splashed onto her hand. She gasped and instinctively recoiled, feeling the heat and sharp sting sear her skin. He watched, then turned and left, footsteps receding as he slammed the door behind him. 


The pain quickly subsided into a dull ache, and she ran her hand under cold water to soothe the burn. The sensation was both uncomfortable and strangely familiar as she watched the reddened patch on her skin slowly fade.  

– Edissa Rodriguez


Edissa Rodriguez is a sophomore in Creative Writing at the Orange County School of the Arts in Southern California. She has been writing since she was 11 and enjoys writing fiction and comedy.