Miel stood in her kitchen and stared at the package of pasta on the counter. It was thin and long and didn’t take up much space. If she turned it on its side she could slide it in between the salt and pepper and probably forget about it.
Her heart didn't pound. Her body wasn't sweating. Her mind wasn't racing.
Her left hand stung along the side and pulsed lightly, but that's what happens when you slap someone so hard they get knocked to the ground. Miel rotated her wrist and stretched her fingers. She didn’t cast a spell to alleviate the injury. She accepted the pain in her hand like an old friend. It was proof of her independence.
The doorbell rang into the open space of the kitchen. Its jolly tune bumped against the dark energy she could feel bleeding out of her. It felt like sandpaper being lightly dragged across her skin.
Either Anise was early, or Miel had been staring at the pasta for too long.
Gripping the cool metal of the doorknob Miel stretched her lips across her face in the approximation of a smile. She took a deep breath in and willed her eyes to look clear and normal. As she exhaled she imagined tar turning into clean water. The meditation cleansed the air surrounding her. She trapped the remaining negativity inside of herself with a strong psychic wall and let it turn into a hidden storm.
She opened the door. Anise stood on the other side with a bottle of wine floating near her head. Her grin didn't look overstretched and falsely bright. It looked natural and gleeful. Miel dialed down the stretch of her smile into something small, but which felt more organic.
"Well, are we gonna get this party started or what?" Anise asked. Her shoulders shimmied and the wine swished against the sides of the bottle as if dancing with her.
"Or what," Miel answered. It was the traditional answer.
Anise rolled her eyes and pointed a finger into Miel's face. "You have a lot of explaining to do. You finally kicked the bastard out?"
"More or less." Miel pressed the side of her hand into her thigh until the sting grew strong enough that it began to pulse again. She hadn't noticed when it stopped.
Anise and her bottle of wine shoved their way past Miel and into the kitchen. "It's about damn time girl! I hated that man from the moment he stuck his perfect nose into your face. I know you're not supposed to pre-judge but you can just tell with some people and that guy had asshole embedded in his aura."
Miel had followed Anise into the kitchen. She let the constant chatter soothe her like balm on an itchy rash.
"He was way too controlling. I feel like this is the first time we're speaking in eons. I can't wait to hear what happened. What exactly did you do? When is he coming by to get his crap? I'll make sure to be here—"
"Anise, can we make the food first? I'll answer all your questions later."
"That's fine, I can wait," Anise said, she twirled around to face the counters and cabinets. "What are we eating?" She lifted the package of pasta Miel had left sitting on the counter and gave it a shake. "Ooh! Should we do Spaghetti?"
Miel’s body froze. She felt as if a large cube of ice had been pressed against her neck and allowed to slide slowly into her shirt and down her spine. Her ears hummed as if a few bees had gotten stuck deep inside of her body and she could hear their faint buzzing.
Miel thought of how to respond. The pasta is reserved for another occasion, she could say. The pasta sauce has gone bad, was also an option but a pretty stupid one. It would only take a glance and a sniff into the jar to discover that the sauce was fine. She had to say something. She curled her fingers into her palm, increasing the stinging sensation. She didn't let herself think too hard or too long. "Spaghetti works for me."
While Miel filled a pot with water, Anise moved items around the kitchen with easy flicks of her fingers as if she lived there. She had practically lived with Miel until Miel's life had become consumed by—
Miel dropped the pot of water down onto the stove’s burner grate. She snapped her fingers to catch the water that had spilled over and returned it to the pot.
She should put a stop to this. She should explain herself.
Anise gathered a head of lettuce, a tomato, and a cucumber for a basic side salad. "So tell me what happened between you and the dick."
Miel thought about where she was five hours ago. She recalled the screaming. She recalled the threats. "Dinner first," she said.
"What are we going to do while we cook then?"
"Stare at each other?"
Anise snorted. "Ok, then I'll just talk about myself. You know that food fair? Vino had decided to bring along his friend Freddy and boy did we hit it off. He sure knows how to handle his sausage, I'll give him that."
Miel enchanted the knife so that it chopped the vegetables as Anise propped herself against the counter and chattered about the virtues of Freddy-the-fair-man. Miel had never met him. She hadn't been able to attend the fair with Anise and Vino and Freddy. She had been too busy having another huge fight in her relationship. It had gotten so bad the roof had begun to tremble with the stray magic.
When the water was boiling Miel looked at the pasta again. The energy within her pulsed. She imagined allowing it to spill out of her body and repair what she had done. Her hand would no longer be in pain and the pasta would no longer be on her counter.
Pasta, once cooked, could never be the same again.
There was a chance, though, that after spilling from her it would wreak havoc.
"What's taking so long? I'm starving." Anise lifted the package with her own impatient hands and slid a nail underneath the glued segments of cardboard that kept it sealed.
When her friend bent the dry noodles until they broke in half Miel thought, pasta doesn't have to be boiled to be changed irreversibly. It still probably wasn’t too late.
Anise opened her hands and the halves of pasta floated from them and into the pot of boiling water.
Miel imagined what pasta might sound like if it could scream. Would it have a deep, dominating shout? Would its voice rise into a shrill whistle which tore at its throat as the heat of the water reconstructed it from something strong and stiff to something weak and pliable? How long would pasta feel the pain until its consciousness ebbed away?
"Oh, I forgot to ask! I hate that I always forget to ask. It should be the first thing… well anyways, how's your magic doing?"
Miel pressed her stinging hand against her thigh and stared at the pasta being cooked in the pot. "It's fine now,” she said, her voice faint to her own ears. “I think I figured out what my blockage was."
Anise playfully shoved at her shoulder. "Was the blockage about six feet tall with an amazingly ugly personality?"
The corner of Miel’s mouth lifted in a pitiful attempt of an approximation of a smile. The energy within her churned and slammed against the walls of her body. She wondered absently if it was strong enough to levitate her. She imagined flying away. "I'm able to do transformations again," Miel said.
The pasta once had brown hair and light brown eyes. The blockage hadn’t been six feet tall for about three hours now.
"Good for you! You were always the best out of the two of us at that. I thought maybe that jackass had blocked higher levels of magic for you forever."
Miel wanted to express that the blockage hadn't left so much as her magic had, had enough of being blocked.
When the food was ready Miel and Anise put the sauced pasta in a large plastic bowl and the salad in a smaller one. They floated the food and the wine to the table in Miel's living room, along with plates and forks and paper towels. They sat down across from each other.
As Miel watched Anise twirl some Spaghetti on her fork and slide it into her mouth a firm, unmovable ball of hysteria lodged itself in her throat. Miel imagined it was an egg in which grew a parasitic worm. When it hatched the worm, large and disgusting, would emerge from her throat and move about her home. It would crash into framed photos, knocking them to the ground and spreading broken glass everywhere.
"So, onto the good stuff," Anise said, leaning forward and chewing and chewing and chewing. "When is he coming back to get his things? Do you need me to be here?"
Miel watched Anise's throat work as she swallowed her mouthful of food.
Pasta could never be anything once it was digested.
"He's gone." Her voice was normal. Her heart didn't pound. Her body didn't sweat. She pierced a few, well-cooked pasta noodles with her fork and twirled them around the tines. Miel placed the pasta in her mouth and began chewing. "He won't be returning."