The cloud was thick and acrid. It coursed into the kitchen intent on assault. Jessica stumbled back. An oven mitt (rust brown with bruises from past battles) fell to the floor. Jessica swore and then she hacked, her words getting caught on the soot and the quickly thinning air. She cleared her throat as best she could and then she threw herself back into the haze. One hand trailed the ground. She found the mitten by feel alone. Her eyes beat furiously. A steady stream of tears coursed down her cheeks. She pushed forward.
Jessica pulled the oven door fully open and thrust her mitten covered hand inside. Her fingers curled, gripped and yanked. She snapped up, clunked her latest victim onto the stove top and made a run for the patio doors.
Jessica dragged in air. It felt like a drug. Behind her, a thinning cloud of smoke wafted toward the doors and to freedom. She looked back at the kitchen and shook her head.
“Oh Jessie girl, you really need to stop doing this.”
It had become a habit of hers to turn to baking when an art block came on. Following a recipe allowed her to create without also having to deal with the tricky business of creative thinking. And giving herself that space, that time to keep her hands busy while her mind wandered, it worked. Exactly one baking session later and Jessica was ready to face the clay once more.
It had also become a habit of hers to get lost in the work while her saviour slowly turned to char.
Today’s hero-turned-burn-victim should have been a sticky date pudding. Now it was just an imagined memory on the tongue.
Jessica shrugged. It’s not like she actually wanted all of those calories.