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The kitchen scene finishes up this week from Celia’s perspective in Part 7 of “Maelstrom’s Eye.” She learns a bit more than she expects in this part. I hope you enjoy.
And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. ~ Daniel 8:10
I do not know how the Third World War will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth – rocks! ~ Albert Einstein
Celia watched Carl slicing carrots, and reached the conclusion the man wasn’t nearly as incompetent in the kitchen as she had first thought. His motions weren’t as polished as a chef that practiced regularly, but neither were they as clumsy as someone wielding the blade for the first time.
The man was an enigma. He obviously knew something about cooking, and yet, rarely had anything besides the frozen convenience foods and fresh produce from his garden. He had gone to a trade school and learned construction, yet gave her glimpses of such intelligence that he would have excelled in any of her college classes. He needed friendship and community, but shunned contact with most of his neighbors.
He scooped the sliced carrots into the stewpot, and then began slicing the onion.
“You didn’t wait for me to tell you to cut the onion. I thought you didn’t know how to cook?” Celia asked.
“I said I don’t know how to can, and asked what if I didn’t want to learn to cook or can,” Carl said. “You never asked me, though, if I already knew how to cook.”
“So, why don’t you cook more for yourself?”
He shrugged. “It just seems like a lot of trouble for just me.” The diced onions went into the pot, and he began cutting potatoes into cubes. “You’ve got me making a stew that will feed a small army, and most of it will go bad long before I eat it all.”
“You don’t have to make large meals, you know.”
“I don’t have to make any meals. I can let the Arctic Frozen Dinner company do all the cooking and clean-up, and get just the amount I need without the work.”
“I just don’t understand why you would eat bland frozen foods when you know how to cook things that would taste so much better.”
He set the knife on the counter, and turned around with his hands in his pockets. Looking at the floor, he took a deep breath and released it. “I’d just eat the produce from my garden, if I could get away with it, but I need more than I can grow. With the frozen stuff, I can just order it on the network, and it gets delivered to me. I don’t have to worry about going to a store and shopping. What I want is in stock, and the quality never changes.”
She let out an involuntary snort. “The quality never changes, because it’s not that high to begin with.”
“It’s good enough.”
“What’s wrong with going to a store and shopping? I could go with you, if you wanted.”
“I’d rather just stay home.”
“You need to get out of this house more often. If you don’t like stores, you could always come to church with us tomorrow.”
He shook his head. “The less I’m around people, the better.”
“Why? Why are you so afraid of being with people?”
“Why don’t you ask your father that question? I think he did a pretty good job of answering it last night.”
“The people at our church aren’t all like my father.”
“Enough of them are, I’m sure. It doesn’t matter what group I find myself in, the moment they learn that I had anything to do with Maelstrom, I get the same treatment I got from your father last night. People hate Maelstrom, and they hate anyone with any connection to it.”
“You don’t have to tell them.”
“They’ll find out eventually, and then I’ll once again be tainted by Maelstrom.” He turned back towards the counter. “No matter what I do, the world will always see me in the light of Maelstrom.”
“They will, Carl, because that’s how you see yourself. What happened out there? Are you the same Carl Anders that went to space to build something? Were you like this before?”
His voice became quiet. “I was pinned in a hatchway, and they couldn’t free me until they’d taken measures to make sure my damaged suit wouldn’t decompress the moment they opened the hatch. I stayed there until they brought two thick bars, which they bolted together to clamp my legs and my suit above the injury, but they couldn’t give me anything for the pain. They had to tighten the clamps sufficiently to make sure that no air or blood could escape, because on the other side of the hatch, my legs were already gone.” Closing his eyes, he continued. “They had to crush my legs again to save my life, only it was slower the second time. One of the guys disabled my helmet microphone so they wouldn’t have to hear me screaming while they did it. At that point, I wanted them to just open my suit and let me die, because it would have been quicker and less painful.”
“Carl, I - ”
“It might have been worth it – the pain, the loss of my legs, the rehabilitation and physical therapy – if it had been for something that was going to advance knowledge and science, but then, I learned what we had been building, and I realized I was just the first of heaven only knows how many casualties Maelstrom would cause.”
She laid her hand on his arm. “It doesn’t have to be like this, Carl. What’s done is done, but you will never leave it behind so long as you only see yourself through Maelstrom’s eye. There is another eye that is much more important, and you need to see yourself through His eyes.”
He stepped away. “You can finish the stew if you want, or just leave it. Take it home and finish it for your family, for that matter – I don’t care. I’d rather be alone right now, so I’m going to bed.”
“Bed? It’s only five o’clock.”
“Good night, Celia.” He walked out of the kitchen without a backward glance.
Celia stood there for a moment feeling helpless, and then turned to the partially cut potatoes. I wonder, Lord – was it easier to call Lazarus from the tomb, because being dead, he couldn’t argue with You?
To be continued…