Found this floating around in my files. If I remember correctly, I was supposed to write a story how-to, or maybe a creative non-fiction. Alright, so I don’t really remember what the assignment was, but here it is.
David Coverdale has made up his mind. He ain’t wasting no more time. There he goes again. He can go ahead and go do that. I’m making chicken soup; never mind that I’m alone on Valentine’s Day and no one else will eat it. I’ll eat it, so there. Two carrots and a couple of russet potatoes wait lined up beside a Wal-Mart bag next to the sink. (Why are even the vegetables coupled up today?) A lonesome peeler menaces them from across the bag. A knife and cutting board huddle waiting for the stripped carrots and potatoes to come their way a whole three feet across the kitchen. The pot sits empty and impassive over them all in the seat of honor: the front right burner. Journey encourages me to not stop believing as I consider the carefully separated, individually packaged, frozen, boneless chicken breasts cooped up in the freezer. I really should have taken out one or two earlier to let them thaw a bit. Defrost button on the microwave is always a willing friend anyway. The real question is which particular boob do I grab? (Sorry, chickens, it’s nothing personal.) Mom says it’s better to use boned chicken; that it makes a difference. But we’re halfway there and living on a prayer…no, that’s just Bon Jovi throwing in his two cents. Never mind him. What does he know about chicken soup? A pair of chicken breasts snuggled up on the left of the freezer looks a little too cozy for my taste so I take them out and set them in the sink. They can sweat it together in that metal bin while I look for the garlic and onion. I recall having an onion, but I don’t recall when I bought it. Probably not a good sign, but I can’t remember what I had for breakfast half the time, so I’m not too worried. Unless, of course, I don’t have an onion. That could be problematic. Rick Springfield wants Jesse’s girl. Does Jesse have an onion I can have in case I don’t find mine? I’m sure I have garlic somewhere, too. It will pop up eventually. I only need a small pile of onion chunks and two little garlic segments. While she—whoever she is– may be a good girl loving Jesus, Elvis, her mama and horses, I would love it if in finding my onion it were not moldy. You go ahead and be so care free, Tom Petty, I get to figure out how to get around a fuzzy onion. On the upside, I’ve also found the celery chilling in the vegetable drawer like so many devil-may-care teenagers lying low in a basement. I’ll be watching you, celery, just the way Sting says. Every move you make, every breath you take…I’ll be watching you. I wash two stalks, stand them on the cutting board and stack the rest back in the fridge. I couldn’t care less what the rest of it does as long as it’s clean and put away properly. I’ve got what I want. What am I going to do about the onion? If only it had been the garlic. I’ve got garlic powder for when there is no garlic. I’m under pressure. You’re not alone, Queen, but I’ll tell you why we can’t give love a chance. Love is much too sweet to replace onion. There’s no room for love in chicken soup! I want to start the chicken boiling, but once that begins you have to move through the vegetables quickly to add them before the chicken cooks too long. You can’t throw everything else in there without the onion. It just wouldn’t be right. By now I’m actually hungry and my mid section is beginning to twist a little bit on the inside and rumble in short, low bursts. Lynyrd Skynyrd is going home to Alabama. Maybe I’ll just eat a sandwich and go back to bed. I hate to go bother the neighbors for onion. It doesn’t really seem sanitary to borrow from people you only see in passing anyway. I don’t even know their names, any of them. I don’t want to bother any of my friends. They all have plans, it being Valentine’s Day and all. If only I could sail away with you Styx, if only… There are crackers in the pantry somewhere, so at least I can hush my stomach until I figure out a fix for the not-yet-soup. Some organization wouldn’t hurt the pantry or me. I just don’t really care if the spices sit with the canned goods. Shift the peaches down a shelf, slide the box of Capri sun to the right, drag the crackers from behind a box of cereal and there, shoved forgotten in the back, is a bottle of dried chopped onions. I hope she doesn’t let you down, guys. My pantry didn’t let me down. It’s not the first time I’ve been in love, but I’m certainly appreciative of my happy little pantry. I wish I could share my chicken soup with The Beatles. Chopped onion won’t be as good, but it’ll add the flavor I need. I start lining up the bottle of onion with the salt, pepper and Nor for easy access. I survey my materials to see if anything is missing and catch the garlic peeping out from behind the honey bottle on top of the microwave. Ingredients acquired and set for prep. The chicken droops out of their respective Ziplocs onto a plate and defrost them quickly before dumping them into the pot. I add water and two crushed garlic segments, leaving room for the vegetables and set it back on the stove at half heat. By the time the vegetables have been peeled and chopped, the chicken will be mostly cooked and ready to have guests. I shake the salt over the boiling pot for eight counts between peeling and chopping. First the carrots and potato chunks go in, all no bigger than ping pong balls, then the celery and onion. Elton John, Kiki Dee and I all sing at the top of our lungs, “Don’t go breaking my heart!” I fish out the chicken and tear it up into bite sized bits before throwing it back in the pot. More salt, shake in some pepper, and few sprinkles of Nor chicken flavoring. Some cilantro would have been great if I had any. There’s a brief moment where I wonder if I should add more chopped onion, but then I’d have to stop dancing. The soup is on its own. It smells just fine to me. I love chicken soup.