Eggs, No Basket
For weeks, I’ve been nursing a strange, unproductive, overwhelming urge to egg my abusive ex-boyfriend’s house. Strange because I am not usually one to waste food, especially on rotten people. Unproductive because revenge fantasies are only so cathartic, especially when you don’t intend to act them out. Overwhelming because, well. It’s all I think about. At the expense of my job performance, my attentiveness on the highway, in the bedroom. This is your brain; this is your brain on crime.
This isn’t the first time I haven’t known how to talk about my desire. Be gay, do crimes: a slogan bedecking the laptops and tote bags and denim jackets of every frustrated queer I know, but if I really started making a plan, someone would talk me down from the ledge. I’m trying to take the sage, imagined advice of a trusted friend. I’m writing about it instead. It’s nowhere near as satisfying as a cold shell against my fingers.
I just think that the resounding thwap of eggshell and snotball goop against the side of a car would instantly cure my c-PTSD. It is my right to seek appropriate and high-quality care for my mental health. Therapy can wait. I need three dozen rounds of free-range ammo. I need the cover of darkness. I need a getaway driver in a car he wouldn’t recognize.
Every afternoon, as I leave work, I consider the detour: eleven miles northwest, thirty minutes without the aid of highways or the hindrance of heavy traffic. There must be a dozen or more grocery and convenience stores between my parking spot and the front yard of that house I narrowly avoided living in. Payday is in a few weeks. I could spare the extra fifteen bucks. Would I want to case the joint first? Ready, aim, fire.
It only seems fair. If I have to spend the rest of my life cleaning up after him, the least he can do is spend an afternoon cleaning up after me. Hand and knees and elbow grease, scrubbing his castle in the freezing February air, little egg-phantoms cooked into the paint.
It seems like a waste of eggs. An egg is such a delicious thing. The humble chicken’s perfect little gift to the world. I have a whole cookbook dedicated to them. They can be the main course or the side dish, any hour of the day. They build sauces and fortify soups and without them there would be no ice cream, no carbonara, no crispy Belgian waffles.
One December morning, on a vacation to his family’s ancestral European home, I made a crude breakfast discovery: a soft-boiled egg can be scooped out of its shell in jammy clumps with the delicate egg spoon, smeared over the craggy surface of a torn piece of crusty white bread, mushed up with imported French butter and fleur de sel like fingerpaints. The conversation ebbed and flowed around me and my precious egg-toast. I wore a t-shirt that said “Honk! Honk!” across my chest, two faded outline illustrations of the Honkers from Sesame Street spread out over the tits. Second cup of acrid, over-sweetened coffee. Ripping bread apart with my fingers, bright orange yolk under my unpainted nails, joints cold and arthritic and creaking. Even as the rest of my memories dissolve and collapse into the sea of time — even as I wonder if I’ll ever want to travel again in [REDACTED], a place thick with sour, fermented memory — I’ll always remember that egg: sexy, squishy, salty, soft. Little savory lifeline, little reason to wake up in the morning.
All day long, I think about them. The eggs. The windows. The handmade doors, the freshly-painted white shiplap. What sounds does a thrown egg make? I rotate through onomatopoeia in the shower. Thwup. Skrunch. Plop. Foomp. The water makes me dizzy as it gets hotter. Dysautonomia asserts itself again, and the floor underneath my feet wobbles. I can hear my girlfriend in the next room, asking our cat if she’s a little baby, if she’s the best baby, if she’s a stinky baby. I sit at the bottom of the bathtub and let vanilla shampoo run over my closed eyelids and I think about egg whites drying in the cold air of three in the morning.
My girlfriend hates eggs. Smell, texture, viscosity. The first time I made them carbonara, in my tiny horrible apartment a thousand miles from what is now and once again home, they asked me, as I whisked grated parmesan and duck eggs together in a little blue bowl, if the sauce would end up tasting eggy. I had to think about this for a minute. I had eaten dozens of bowls of carbonara in this little kitchen, both a semi-traditionally bacon-studded version and an al limone version I had seen someone on YouTube make and subsequently become obsessed with.
search: how do you egg someone’s house and get away with it
The self-appointed cops of the internet are not amused, or sympathetic. The homeowners of the world have spoken: it is very, very bad to harm someone’s property. Their property! The landed gentry, unimpeachable, must be protected from petty crimes like these. You might need to — gulp — repaint your whole house to fix that kind of damage! I know him well. He liked having total control over his property. Without a girlfriend to boss around and keep tabs on all day, I am sure the house is the recipient of all that obsessive and controlling attention. Everything just so. Handmade bathroom tiles. DIY wood-fired appliances. Skirting code. Too good for rules or air quality control.
One snag in the plan emerges: I’m bad at throwing things. Bad aim, weak arms, arthritic hands that can’t grip small things very well. What if I miss, or drop an egg, or what if an egg lands unbroken and naked on the front lawn? I am not the Easter bunny. I crave destruction.
I have to imagine light revenge scenarios or the memory and the intensifying nightmares will swallow me whole. It’s been months since I slept through the night. My brain feels more haunted than usual. Jittery all day, dry-caffeinated, sweaty, vibrating at my core. My heart pounds for reasons unrelated to chronic illness. It leaps between my throat and my guts, throat, guts, throat again, guts once more. My girlfriend asks how I’m feeling, and I tell them, regressed. There’s no other way to explain it. I feel nineteen again, shrunken into myself, terrified of eye contact, terrified of intruding upon the space around me. Constantly, it feels like someone is watching me. Waiting to bust me for the misdemeanor of my contentment.
Sometimes I think I didn’t deserve to be plucked from the burning wreckage of that past life. I have nightmares about my stable, loving life; I have ethereal, Vaseline-on-the-lens dreams about the worst years of the past. I thought I had recovered a little more than this. Maybe it’s being back home. Maybe it’s being loved. Maybe it’s my brain feeling comfortable unpacking another dusty box while things are comparatively less chaotic: hey, as long as you’re feeling secure in your life, can we maybe tackle another one? I can’t afford to pay for therapy. I need it in a different way than I did a year ago. Things, I think, were much worse than I ever realized. Why else would I flinch and yelp when my girlfriend reaches to gently cup my cheek? Why else would the thought of — well, anyway.
To make an omelet, you have to crack a few eggs, blah blah blah. Achievement at the expense of someone else: to become a great artist, to shape something useful out of dirt and refuse, to pull something into a beautiful and functional shape. I think I think too much, about this, about everything else.
sunny side up.
There’s a joke about cracking eggs here somewhere. Two genderfucked freaks hurtling down the highway in the middle of the night, matching black outfits, flat shoes for running. Two abuse victims out for the tiniest, most inconsequential revenge. Babymetal on the car stereo.
We drive through the industrial part of town, neighborhoods gentrification is only just beginning to touch. Houses out here are — were? — cheap. The one we are heading towards now was abandoned for years before its current inhabitant took it over. Who knows what it looks like inside these days. I remember the photos from the day he bought it, the excited text messages: I bought a house! For us! I can’t wait to have your help making this a home. Teenagers had written love poems and good-time solicitations to each other on the front door. Fluffy pink insulation poked out of knocked-in holes in the wall. The stuffing literally knocked out of this tiny single-story.
In the distance, an oil refinery, its footprint sprawling to the size of a small, bad-breath-smelling city. We cruise past a 7-11. After this, I think, victory getaway Slurpees. My treat: cherry, blue raspberry.
Who makes their home address public information? Someone who has never known a consequence. Someone who doesn’t believe in the real possibility of anything bad or even troubling happening to them. What could he do to the world that it would not joyfully welcome? What could the world do to him that he would not also be willing to do to it — that he hasn’t already done?
Hours earlier than this, while we were waiting for darkness to fall, I flipped through the cookbook that is all about eggs, yearning for something more delicious, more productive, to spend an evening on. Denver omelets, bursting with ham and peppers and Tabasco. Shakshuka, eaten straight out of the pan with hunks of crusty bread. Gin fizz, Pisco sour, if only I could stand the smell of alcohol, or the sensation of being tipsy. Egg tagine. Frittata. Quiche Lorraine. Tamagoyaki. Meringue.
These are the things I wish I thought about all day. Every hour my brain is preoccupied with things I don’t choose: the pain fermenting in any number of joints, the connective tissue sliding and popping and stiffening as I stretch and walk and move and breathe, all of the previous night’s nonrestorative sleep burning off by 10am, how quickly or slowly to stand up so that the green-white stars don’t overtake my eyes and I don’t flop onto the floor like a dropped ragdoll. Getting out the Christmas decorations this past December, I let my mind stray from my knees and ankles and wound up face-down on the basement carpet. Always hypervigilant. Always hyper-aware of what’s happening to and in my body. On alert for signs of trouble. I can’t let myself fall over like that again. I can’t let those things happen again. On and on, looping around itself.
But now, on this anonymous side street, there is no space in my brain for thinking. No room for rumination. If we linger too long, we’ll be seen, someone might get a license plate number, a make and model. Heart in mouth. Joints in crisis. Horizon rising and falling with the motion of my exhausted inner ear. The front yard fence is low and easy to hoist a broken body over. The yard is deep and riddled with scrap piles and parked cars, a maze we have not studied. I hoist my throwing hand over my head, and yolk-yellow splotches cloud my vision. My head is light and heavy and ready to explode. A quaint light inside the living room goes out. A curtain flutters with the motion of a passing, cozy body.
On your marks — get set — fling —
Kelsi Long serves as an editor at Canned Magazine. Their work has appeared in The Hunger, Maudlin House, Burning Jade, and elsewhere. Their poem, “#notallwolves,” was nominated by Sword & Kettle Press’s Corvid Queen for the 2020 Pushcart Prize. After a brief detour in Vermont, where they received an MFA in Writing & Publishing (RIP) at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Kelsi lives once again in their hometown of Denver, Colorado, with their girlfriend and their cat-daughter, Tippy Rose. Find them on Twitter @tweetsbykelsi.