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.