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Bedeviled

(by Megan A. Pastore)


Step 1: Put two dozen eggs in a pot of boiling water for two minutes. Remove from heat, and cover for 14. Then rinse under cold water, and soak in an ice bath until cooled completely. This technique should allow the boiled egg to separate from the shell, effortlessly. As expected, the eggs are peeling like shit again. No one wants to hear you sob in the kitchen because your mother’s voice in your head says you can’t do anything right.


Step 2: Remember your mother making these eggs, crying, saying she couldn’t do anything right. She had a rough childhood, and her relationship with her own mother was strained. She tried to do better with you and your sister, but a bit of her voice became your own. Will your voice now become your daughters'?


Step 3: Carefully slice each egg in half lengthwise, and remove the yolk into your mother’s pea-green ceramic mixing bowl that you always coveted, but at this moment, you’d sooner shatter on the slate kitchen floor. Arrange the halved, empty eggs on any number of festive oval dishes—Mom’s too, but not so much a gift of generosity as they were a Trojan horse. You take them out for any number of goddamn holidays when the family begs you to make your (mother’s) deviled eggs. No one understands how much time and effort goes into preparing 48 deviled eggs. They do not understand that you are not your mother—not her skill or wit or cynicism. You digress on the cynicism.


Step 4: Mash the yolks with a fork until they take on the consistency of sand, slipping through the fork prongs like the slipping frequency of holiday get-togethers—once a cohesive thing, now granulated. Pop was the glue, until he wasn’t.


Step 5: Don’t bother to measure the amount of mayonnaise and mustard—just spoon and squirt into the yolks, and stir until your desired consistency…. Fuck? Too many lumps, again. No surprise—you never do anything right. Daddy always said you listened like a sieve, and your mother’s silence agreed. Next, taste-test until it’s “good enough.” It will never be good enough. For her. Nothing ever is. No one says thank you, anyway.


Step 6: Find the right teaspoon from the drawer–the one with the smooth fishtail swirl on the handle, the one your mother left at your house when she told you how to “make the goddamn eggs the right way this time,” the one she forced into your hand, her cold, thin hand over yours. Scoop, scoop, scoopnot that much, no, now you need more. Gently, ever so gently, plop each scoop into each egg—careful not to split the thinned edge of the white. That ruinous misstep nearly caused a split lip more than once.


Step 7: Glare at the festive oval dishes and wonder how the fuck you have three leftover, un-yolked whites on the plate, staring back at you blankly like you are the village idiot. Question your every decision, your every mistake in life, hearing her voice as you crumble under the weight of countless expectations.


Step 8: Chuck them down your throat, or chuck them in the trash—doesn’t matter, they are a waste, anyway. You are a waste, anyway.


Step 9: Dash the paprika over each greedy egg, each bloated, gluttonous egg, and dismiss them with a fat fuck you. Wrap the dish in cellophane, and don’t blink twice when it sticks. Not like you get to enjoy them anyway.


Step 10: Drive the 17, or 20, or 37 minutes, to whoever is hosting the damn holiday, and walk in with any number of festival oval dishes, carrying 48—no, 45—deviled eggs.


Step 11: Kiss your mother hello. Let her straighten your sweater and brush the dog hair from your skirt. Choke on your careful smile as you watch her count, and under her breath, swear you see her lips bitch that you can’t do anything right.