“11:34 AM” said the digital clock in big red numbers as Eli lazily stretched on his bed. It was the fifteenth day of quarantine and as the schools were closed there were not many reasons for a 16-year-old teenager to leave his bed in the morning besides the urge of emptying his bladder.
Getting up and quickly making his way to the bathroom, Eli closed the door and pull down his pants in front of the toilet, managing a clear shot and the relief of letting his bladder rest. After covering his privacy, he went and stood in front of the sink. The mirror located just above showed him a naked guy, from the waist up, with messed dirty blond hair and a protruding olive-skinned belly.
‘I’m flawless’ said Eli rubbing his stomach and continuing to wash his hands.
As he went through the corridor, Eli stopped by his mom’s office door, that was next to the staircase, with a quick “Buenos días mami” and then downstairs.
Eli’s mom, Olivia Brown, was born in Colombia, but immigrated to the United States when she was just a baby to finally settle herself in Miami, Florida. The notice of the quarantine was not a big deal for a content editor like her, who could work from home and already had an office in one of the spare rooms.
As a result of having a Latin mother, Eli had to live with the childhood struggle of trying to understand and speak two languages, school meant English and home meant Spanish. Olivia wanted her son to be able to communicate in Spanish, so she “encouraged” him to speak about how was his day in Spanish. Every time an English word came out of his mouth resulting into looking to death directly in the eye. As he grew up and showed her mother that he mastered both languages, speaking in any of them at home was not a problem anymore.
Arriving in the kitchen with iPhone on hand and scrolling through Instantglam, something on the kitchen island caught his eye making him stop and turn. There, in the middle of the kitchen island, was an aged-golden-colored oval plate, somehow deep almost like a bowl with little flower decorations in black.
Eli was not surprised, if there was something his mother loved more than buying antiques was putting them around the house. That one seemed like the new acquisition and the fact that it was in the kitchen meant there was still not a “perfect” spot for it.
Eli stared at the plate for forty seconds deep in thought, suddenly out of his trance he went straight to the fridge pulled out milk, and then cereal from the clipboard. After years of practicing Eli knew that the best way of making cereal was to first pour a hint of milk followed by the cereal and finally pour the milk that is needed to make a good balance.
Having placed part of his breakfast in the golden plate and not having brought the first spoonful to his mouth yet, his phone rang. Eli put the spoon on the plate with the handle resting in the edge and looked at the screen. In the screen the name of his best friend, Roxie, made him automatically press the “answer” button.
‘Hey Eli! You’re not going to believe it man. I had the craziest dream and you were in it’ claimed Roxie with a big smile and moving her face along with her blond hair from side to side cheerfully.
‘Hey Roxie! You’re not going to believe it girl’ said Eli mimicking her ‘Remember how my mom promised that she was not going to expend more money in her antique stuff because of the quarantine?’
‘Oh, don’t tell me…’ answered Roxie squinting her blue eyes with a smile.
‘Behold, a new marvelous piece of our country’s capitalism and the need of wasting money that we don’t have’ announced Eli showing the plate.
‘Hahahaha, I love it! especially the use that you’re giving it’ said Roxie.
‘It’s the only way for that thing to fulfill a purpose’
‘Wait a sec… Sorry, I gotta go, my mom is calling me to help her dye her hair’ said Roxie while in the back someone yelled her name.
‘No problem, good luck into finding the perfect tone of hair’
‘Ughh, she has not even picked the color she wants yet. I’ll call you later. Bye’
Still looking at the screen of his phone and scrolling through Instantglam, he felt the pressing of hunger and not wanting his cereal to go soft, Eli reached for the spoon, however, it was not there. Eli turned his gaze and fixed it in the plate, but there were only cereal and milk, no sight of a spoon. He frowned; he was sure he put a spoon on the plate before answering Roxie’s call, then shrugged. Eli was aware that brightness was not his best attribute, but his memory was one of the things that he still had confidence about. Bringing another spoon to his plate he started eating his cereal while looking at his phone. First tablespoon, the cereal was wonderfully crunchy, just how he liked it. A video started playing in Eli’s cellphone, he left the spoon on the plate with the handle resting on the edge, the video was featuring two guys nursing a hurt fox and releasing him back into his habitat.
‘I love happy endings’ said Eli wiping a single tear from his eye as he has always had a soft side for animals.
Turning his face to the plate he found the spoon gone. He frowned again, this time he was not just sure, but absolutely sure he left a spoon on the plate. He went to the kitchen drawers where the spoons are kept and counted them, four spoons out of six that should be in that same drawer.
‘They must be submerged on the plate’ he thought to himself while dipping his right hand in the plate and…nothing, he couldn’t even feel the base of the plate. ‘This is weird, it is not that deep, or at least it doesn’t look that deep’. He kept dipping his hand, and as his hand went deeper his face went from slight discomfort to fear, at that moment he had his arm submerged almost reaching his shoulder. He stayed inclined on the plate, in that same position with his eyes wide open looking at nothing for half a minute.
‘MADRE!’ shouted Eli with an almost feminine high-pitched scream while pulling his arm out as fast as he could, this abrupt movement resulting in him losing his balance and slipping to his left. Hoping to be saved from the fall, Eli tried to put his left hand on the island, but it goes without saying that fate had other plans as his left palm didn’t find the comfort of marble but instead thin air. The left side of his face, however, was greeted by the edge of the island and after the hit his body could finally rest in the floor.
‘What was that sound?’ said his mother from afar, footsteps noises from the staircase. When arriving to the kitchen, the first thing that caught Eli’s mother attention was not her son crawling from behind the island with a stunned face, but the fact that her newest acquisition was full of milk and cereal. Olivia Brown was a short woman of thin complexion and wavy dirty-blond-colored hair. She loved her son more than anything in the world, but always had a hard time expressing her feelings and along with her strict attitude was surprised Eli turned out that well.
‘Elijah Brown! You better have a good explanation on why my relic, for which I paid a lot of money, is being lowered to a cereal bowl?’ said Eli’s mother with a serious tone of voice.
‘The spoon…! It…I don’t get it, was there…and…and then my arm…’ said Eli hesitating every word that came from his mouth.
‘The spoon?’ said Olivia frowning in confusion and turning to check the cutlery drawers. Her eyes went wide ‘Eli! Where are the other two spoons? there are just four, you know these are antiques and collectibles’ she stated, showing him one of them to make her point.
Olivia’s phone rang letting her know that she had a new message. After checking the screen, she looked at her son and said ‘Look Eli, I have a videoconference right know. Don’t make loud noises and look for the spoons. Alright?’. Without waiting for a response, she turned and went straight to her office, from the kitchen Eli could hear her closing the door behind her.
Sitting in the floor and trying to digest everything that just happened, Eli got up, went to the living room, and stopped in front of one portrait with the image of Jesus Christ. Eli’s mom was catholic and although he was not that religious, Eli always thought that when in need, any help is appreciated, even the divine kind.
Eli stood there, squinted his eyes a little and grinned as someone that is about to get scolded. ‘Hello Lord…it’s me again…’ said Eli looking at the holy image. ‘I know we don’t talk that much, but I just wanted to remark that I’ve been a good kid and haven’t do drugs in my whole life. So, I was wondering if you could consider this every time you decide my fate as I don’t want to have a mental disease at an early stage of my life’. By saying that, Eli went back to the kitchen, looked intensely at the plate for half a minute and while walking towards it extended his arm, dipping his hand once again in the plate. Realizing that he had dipped his arm up to the elbow, he took it out, remained silent for a moment and thought ‘Jesus Christ! I just found a freaking magic portal, that goes God knows where, in a cereal bowl’.
He walked a few steps back and thought to himself ‘But…how is that the cereal and milk are still there? Maybe the cereal remains because it floats, so it really doesn’t touch the base of the plate, but then, how is the milk in different?’. Eli took the plate in his hands and emptied its contents in the sink, then proceeded to put his hand, this time being able to touch the base of the plate, nothing out of the ordinary.
‘This is crazy but might as well try’ thought Eli while pouring milk on the plate. When the plate reached a generous amount of milk, Eli dipped his hand up to the elbow, there it was again, the magic portal. ‘Okay, apparently it only works when is filled with milk. Now, how do I get back the spoons?’ thought Eli holding his head with his hands in frustration.
Having made up his mind Eli looked to the plate and thought ‘I’ll have to go in’.
Using a measuring tape found in the garage, Eli measured the dimensions of the plate, 24 inches the largest diameter and 14 inches the remaining one. This was certainly one of the few times Eli felt grateful to have inherited his mother’s tiny complexion, he didn’t have wide shoulders and his height was average, from a woman perspective. He started getting ready, went upstairs, took a cold seven-minute shower and put on comfortable clothes as he didn’t know what to expect.
Back in the kitchen, he put the plate on the floor, poured enough milk and, with the intention of recording what was about to happen, arranged his iPhone in front of the plate with a little tripod. Having found some rope in the depths of the garage, he tied one end to the stair railing and a knot at his waist with the other end, the stage was finally set, and the cellphone started recording.
Eli was standing in front of the plate, closed his eyes, took a deep breath and jumped straight at it. His feet submerged in the plate, knees went all the way in and when half of his body, all the way to his hips, was inside he stopped advancing with a thud. He opened his eyes, looked down and realized that his protruding belly restricted his way, and not only that, he was also stuck.
He struggled, groaned and fought to get out of the plate, but his arms were weak, and he had never been proud of his athleticism. He stood there, stuck, and an idea popped out of his mind, Eli had not the best luck, but he sure knew his way through life. Taking the rope between his hands, he started to pull and finally forced his way out of the plate. The plate leaned a little and some of the milk spilled on the floor while he pulled his body out.
Finally standing in his two feet, and soaked in milk, he grabbed his phone and stopped the recording. ‘What am I going to say to mom now?’ thought Eli sweating cold. Just as that thought crossed his mind, the plate throwed the first spoon out, landing on the floor at Eli’s right side. Surprised he poked his head at the plate and the second spoon came out hitting him in the face to finally land on the floor. Rubbing his forehead, where the spoon hit him, he couldn’t hold his laughter. However, this laughter was not the kind of laugh that someone gets by throwing in a good joke, instead it was a nervous laughter that hinted confusion.
‘So, this portal only swallow things and then returns them?’ thought Eli a little disappointed. He replayed the video in his phone, ‘At least it looked kind of cool’, and decided to upload it in his Instantglam account.
The rest of the day was normal and non-productive, as most days, Eli cleaned up the mess he had made in the kitchen and when the night came, lying on his bed, he looked at the “2:33 AM” big red numbers in his digital clock. The fact that he didn’t know 100% how the portal worked was upsetting and with this last thought he fell asleep.
He opened his eyes, “6:23 AM”, a very early hour for him. He turned around and tried to fall sleep again, but he couldn’t, the thought of the plate came to his mind once again, the curiosity and interest for the unknown finally made him decide. ‘I want to know what is inside that plate or what happens inside, if I go in, at least I can say for sure that I’ll be back’ thought Eli to himself. ‘But first…’ he thought while rubbing his stomach ‘I’ll have to lose some weight’. He sighed, took his phone from the nightstand and turned back up the internet connection. Eli was sure there were some people that did some exercises routines and upload them on Instantglam, so there was always a way to start.
As the internet went back on, a bunch of notifications bursted his phone, he frowned, looked at his Instantglam account and from all the comments and likes, he realized that the video he uploaded yesterday went viral. It didn’t take long for him to understand that the main reason the video went viral was not that he submerged half of his body in a plate, but the fact that he got stuck halfway. Most of the comments either praised the editing quality of the video or expressed how funny was the way Eli got stuck. He blushed and grinned a little, the quarantine became entertaining, just in less than 24 hours he found a magic portal, uploaded a video that went viral and inside of him was a newborn will of exercising.