Sympathy for a Kettle

Submitted into Contest #160 in response to: Start your story with the whistle of a kettle.... view prompt


Creative Nonfiction Speculative Sad

I whistle as hard as my organs let me, letting out clouds of smoke from my long neck. I am almost breathless, but I can hear my whistles bounce off the bare walls. I can smell the stale air, filled with fragments of almost, but not completely, forgotten memories. The longer I am abandoned, the smaller my voice becomes. What used to be a whistle has now burned itself down to a mere wheeze as my lungs inch closer and closer to giving out.

I can feel the bottom of my vessel begin to reach a temperature that grows more painful as each minute passes. Droplets of precipitation, like sweat in a human, roll down my sides. They slide down the baby blue coating of my steel skin, separating as they collide with a stray ledge of stripping paint now and then, and continue making their way down to the burning rings of the stove top that I am hopelessly stuck on.

I begin feeling frustrated with myself as I realize how helpless I am. I cannot pick myself up and move off of this burning heat. All I can do is sit here and burn until someone picks me up. All I can do is scream for help.

Like a runner sprinting at the end of a marathon, I muster all the power that is left in me and push my dying wheeze into a shriek, a whistling shriek that begs for attention. My shriek echoes throughout the abandoned home, and the feeling of dread settles in as I lose my last flicker of hope.

As an inanimate object, there are not many things that I despise.

I was created for the use of others. My purpose in life is to be a container that holds and heats water for your coffee, tea, or anything that requires boiling water. I have no choice in this life. I did not choose to be created. I did not choose to be baby blue. I did not choose to be burning to death on this stove top at this very moment.

I have no choices; I have no options, and I possess no agency.

I only exist because you want me to exist.

I only function in the ways that you wish I do.

I may have misled you with an idea that I provided you with earlier. I cannot burn to death. As I feel the flames that rise from the stove top lick the bottom of my steel entity, I am very well aware that I can burn. I have third, fourth, and even fifth-degree burns on the bottom of my metal body.

Oh, does it burn!

I can feel the pain, but it will not harm me. It will not kill me. I can burn but not to death. I can feel the pain of living but can never be let out of my inevitable misery.

I am a baby blue stainless steel kettle, born and raised, or created and manufactured, in a small factory in West Virginia. Since birth, my future paths have been limited. I can probably count on one hand the number of possibilities that I have for a long-term career.

When I was younger, I fantasized about what my potential could let me become. I can be a junkyard monitor or volunteer as a scrap-metal specialist for a non-profit organization that will surely one day save the world and reverse climate change.

Following a lifetime of serving a loving family, I romanticized the reality of being that old-fashioned kettle that sits pretty in a thrift store. Or even in an antique store. I imagined silently yet enthusiastically offering my barista qualities to the customers that come in, hoping that I can be honored with earning a spot on their counter-top, wanting nothing but to serve another lifetime of being a personal barista possessing amateur qualifications and only ever existing in the kitchen of a cozy home.

Out of all the possibilities of what I could have been, the child inside me would have never imagined that I would be a kettle in distress.

What will become of me now?

What will my direction in life be if I am nothing but a fraudulent, useless hunk of barbecued steel? What possibilities will become of me if I am forced to pursue a life of toastiness?

I have run out of tears to cry; all that is in me now is air. And you cannot necessarily boil air. A part of me wishes that air contained the ability to be boiled so that I had something to shield me from taking the entirety of the damage from this stove top that is currently set on the highest setting. But there is no way to boil something that has already been boiled.

I curse my owners. Why encourage a rapid boil when you are not in a rush to utilize the hot water? Why must you leave me in a prolonged state of misery? Have I not served you well enough for you to treat me with a little more respect?

My base is 5-ply encapsulated, so I can boil the water for your tea at an impressive rate. My handle is created with iCool technology to prevent my overheated steel from burning your soft baby-like hands.

I speak, but I convince no one that I am worthy enough of being removed from this painful, bright, circular hell. Should I be expecting a visit from Dante? I can almost see his silhouette at the bottom of the stove top, reaching out his tiny hand and then hastily pulling it back towards his body. I question if the illusion I am seeing is real or if it is a lie that the pain is whispering to me, trying to distract me from this heat.

I do not have the energy to question reality so instead, I speak louder, but no one comes to aid me. There is no one here to hear my pleas for help. Even if there was, would they be able to understand me? Will they spot my distress and save me?

My long, crusty neck lets out a wheeze now and then, continuously making pleas to an empty room. I look around the room where I have been exclusively existing for the past five years and feel saddened.

I burn, and I burn, and I burn, and I burn until eventually, my heating element will be completely fried. It does not matter that my base is 5-ply encapsulated if it is fried beyond repair.

I am no longer a baby blue, long-necked whistling kettle. I am useless.

I am melting on this stove top, slowly and most definitely permanently moving away from my once cohesive, strong build into a pile of hot, fried garbage.

I wish I were never left unattended.

When will they return to realize I am here, continuously burning with no foreseeable end?

Through the pain, I can at least be grateful that I am a kettle made of stainless steel, making it more complicated for me to catch fire and everyone else in this house. The fridge, which over the neglectful years slowly began to lease apartments to families of mice, sits right next to the cabinets, with doors that do not close and sneakily threaten to strike the unassuming on the head.

Even the random collection of colorful ceramic mugs that aggressively demand attention by sporting loud words and titles with no cohesive theme does not feel the pain, and they will not feel pain. They get to live their boring lives, continuing to be an eye sore to any and all guests.

I am not typically an optimist, but to keep myself sane from the intense pain ripping the layers of my onion-like soul apart, I must focus on the curves of the couch. Perhaps focusing on beauty instead of the true visual reality will lessen the pain. I focus my vision past the counter-top riddled with plates left out from last night's dinner and into the living room, where the prettier things exist. The prettier things that continue to exist are not due to the carelessness of their owners but due to my impeccable strength.

I am their hero. This fact inflates the size of my ego and shares a direct relationship with the impact of the burn, as the heat seems to be lowered a little. I can mentally take myself to a place where I am one with the pain that I am feeling and am wondering if I will eventually learn to exist with this pain. Will this become a normal feeling for me?

I doubt the question as soon as it reaches my thoughts. The pain is too loud for me to focus on almost anything else. I don't think I can get used to this pain and accept it as part of my existence without feeling the second-rate reality that accompanies it.

As I burn in this hell, will anyone show sympathy for a kettle? 

August 19, 2022 22:25

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AnneMarie Miles
04:28 Aug 22, 2022

What a creative perspective!! You've forever changed how I think of my own tea kettle (which is also baby blue). Awesome story!


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16:20 Aug 29, 2022

very well done! I didn't even think to talk about an object! Nice job..IT made me appreciate my tea more! thank you for reading mine


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Michael Hopson
02:08 Aug 28, 2022

This is like a really depressing Pixar movie. Loved it!


16:09 Aug 29, 2022

That is a great way to describe it; thank you!


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Havana Summer
12:32 Aug 27, 2022

Amazing story and imagery!


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L.M. Lydon
19:30 Aug 25, 2022

What a fun concept! I particularly enjoyed how you took the kettle's "features" for human benefit and turned them back against it. The line " I speak, but I convince no one that I am worthy enough of being removed from this painful, bright, circular hell. Should I be expecting a visit from Dante? I can almost see his silhouette at the bottom of the stove top, reaching out his tiny hand and then hastily pulling it back towards his body" was particularly inspired.


16:10 Aug 29, 2022

Thank you!! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)


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S. E. Mary
20:31 Aug 24, 2022

Here I am feeling sympathetic for a kettle. Well done!


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Susan Williams
20:15 Aug 24, 2022

Wow, great imagery and such a unique approach to this prompt. Very well written. Makes me wonder what happened to the homeowners, why would they leave the kettle burning on the stove? Great work!


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Kendall Defoe
19:42 Aug 24, 2022

I will never look at my kettle...or teapot...the same way again... :)


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W.E. White
19:13 Aug 24, 2022

Well done what a spectacular way to use the prompt! Love the ode to the Rolling Stones in the title.


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Bradon L
19:06 Aug 24, 2022

This was really well done! I actually felt sympathy for a tea kettle.😅


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Mike Panasitti
18:41 Aug 24, 2022

A story where the MC is a kettle...very creative use of the prompt. Perhaps if the kettle would have been used to water plants, or pour tea, by its inconsiderate owners, it would have felt some vindication after having been neglected on the stove.


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