Dan Crawley ~ Baked Potato

In the entry­way, Debbie says, I have some­thing new to show you.

I fig­ure it’s a 75” flat screen or a shiny car in the garage. Then she tells me it’s in her room. And I know she means a new way we can fuck. Then I hear her mom call out from the oth­er side of the house, and Debbie yells back we’re going to her room to lis­ten to music. No way am I going to Debbie’s room and fuck while her mom is in the house. Debbie’s fin­gers squeeze my arm, hard. Her fin­ger­nails leave tiny sliv­ers of white moons.

What are you cook­ing? I say to Debbie’s mom in the gigan­tic kitchen. That smell?

Baked pota­toes, she says. You want one, sweets?

She opens the wide oven door and lets me peer in. She asks me to get car­tons, bowls, and plates out of a fridge as big as my clos­et at home. The reflect­ing stove top on the counter looks like a small ice rink. And it’s cool to the touch, so I place stuff there.

When the foil is unwrapped and a knife splits the large brown pota­to, the aro­ma is more intense. Debbie’s mom tells me to pile on but­ter. The hot steam bites my knuck­les. Then pile on sour cream, hunks of bacon, flo­rets of broc­coli and cau­li­flower, and grat­ed cheese.

Debbie’s not touch­ing her baked pota­to. I’ll eat it, too, if she doesn’t want it.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a pota­to this way, I say. My par­ents buy the kind from a box.

You eat pota­toes from a box? Debbie’s thick eye­brows rise.

I grew up drink­ing only pow­dered milk, Debbie’s mom says and smiles at me.

~

Dan Crawley is the author of the novel­la Straight Down the Road (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2019). His writ­ing appears or is forth­com­ing in a num­ber of jour­nals and antholo­gies, includ­ing JMWW, Lost Balloon, Tiny Molecules, and Atticus Review. His work has been nom­i­nat­ed for Best Small Fictions, Best of the Net, and the Pushcart Prize. Along with teach­ing cre­ative writ­ing work­shops and lit­er­a­ture cours­es, he is a fic­tion read­er for Little Patuxent Review.