A Metaphor

Matt could still remember the first time he set eyes upon her. The epitome of perfection, the perfect frame with sleek luscious curves. She outshone the competition and he had known that he would take her home. It took him a few moments to work up his nerve, and so he approached her cautiously; he always felt awkward in situations like this.

With the benefit of hindsight Matt scoffed at his original reluctance and fondly remembered their blissful union. They never got married as such, such things were frowned upon, but we really worked well together, he thought reminiscently. He provided her with his love, security, a warm home and a roof over her head. He never required much in return from her but he enjoyed the small things she provided. She was always a warm sight to see in the morning and at night when the lights were turned on she shone like a diamond. Matt loved watching her with an almost childlike eagerness and fascination, and who could forget the cuisine

She almost deified food. She could turn toast – into a three course meal fit for the gods.

When they first met she was sitting, of all places, in a department store. In his mind’s eye he pictured her regal upon her pedestal. All the signs and all the paraphernalia pointed directly at her and her magnificence. It was an inevitable fact of life that he left poorer than upon entrance but for the time spent in her presence, it was worth it.

He was so mesmerised that his ears barely heard someone egg him on, “She’s all yours’ to take home son.”. He got a speeding ticket in his haste, his boyish anticipation at breaking point, there was nothing for it! He filled her up, plugged her into the wall and watched her at work. The DeLonghi RT200 Retro Two Slice Toaster – and for only $36.85.

That was then. This is now.

Bereft of foresight, Matt had not predicted the situation he now found himself in. It was true, that they had worked perfectly together, ‘But you’ve changed!’ he thought bitterly. They didn’t interact often, and when they did it was always fraught with frustration and anger and never with intimacy.

Her once lovely aluminium alloy coating was speckled with rust and had lost its reflective properties. The once perfect frame was dented in one corner and the fancy dials and knobs were flaked and illegible. A worm of doubt entered Matt’s mind, ‘Is it really a mutual relationship anymore? Perhaps I made a mistake…’.

As the slow march of time gripped the toaster in its inescapable hands the toaster became less and less amenable to use. It almost never popped up anymore and when it did, it was always at the wrong time. The romance between them was gone. Getting her to stay down was hard enough as it was. Watching her at work wasn’t fun anymore, it was a game in which she always won, and the loser always got burnt.

Matt blinked once.

Matt reached a decision. He stated, as much to convince himself as anyone, “This… us… doesn’t work.”.

He manhandled the toaster outside his house and lifted it to his shoulder. It was heavier than he remembered, its weight resisting his attempts to move it. The handle dug sharply into his flesh, and the flailing power cord beat at his back and shoulders. For a split second it gained and upper hand and dropped maliciously, desperately on his foot.

Like a refrigerator compressor ticking over in a kitchen filled by a gas leak, Matt snapped. It was indiscernible, yet its potential for destruction was unthinkable.

Like all good fireballs, Matt imploded for a split second as the pain registered.

Then he exploded. The toaster was hurled against the nearest wall with fatal velocity. Now, the toaster was dented along one whole side. Where the collision occurred, the paint had stripped to form a blackened bruise. The toaster was still.

A horrified neighbour gave Matt the type of stare reserved for a madman. He didn’t care, he felt powerful. When he was done with the toaster it was barely recognisable for what it had once been. Most of the paint had been stripped bare. The shape was more oblong than rectangular. In places, the circuitry, the internal organs, were visible and there was no doubt that the toaster was ruined. Even with the best attention it would never again brown bread.

* * * * *

Gemma was worried that her defacto husband was getting depressed. It was something he had been prone to in the past. As always she was at a loss of what to do for him. She hoped that the breakfast she had prepared would make him feel a bit better. Waffles thickly covered in honey with scrambled eggs and toast on the side. The toast was a little burnt but she knew he hated wasting things so she just left them on the plate with a thick spread of marmalade.

He didn’t touch the food, he just gave Gemma strange looks that spoke volumes in a language she could not understand. She could read the mood though, it was regret. He tried to kiss her and Gemma shied away. She was scared, he’d never acted like this, she wished it could just be as simple as it had been when they’d first met. She wanted to tell him she loved him, but she couldn’t get the words out.

She met his gaze and tried to find the man she knew.

He blinked.

He reached a decision. He stated, as much to convince himself as anyone, “This… us… doesn’t work.”.