Christopher Kennedy

The Genius

I will return to the kitchen and add more mayonnaise to the tuna fish and mix it together, doing my best to make the tuna fish smooth and appetizing. Again my mother will call out to me, and I will pretend I didn't hear, and she will be more insistent, and I will relent. I will walk into the living room just at the moment when she has forgotten she has called me. She will get very angry at me when I ask her what she wants. I will return to the kitchen and spread the tuna fish on a piece of rye bread. Then I will place another piece of rye bread over the tuna fish and put the sandwich on a plate. I will pour a glass of milk, and then I will stand in the kitchen with the sandwich in one hand and the glass of milk in the other. I will debate whether or not to stay in the kitchen and eat my sandwich or go out to the living room and eat it.

I will eventually decide to go out to the living room. I will sit on the couch and put the sandwich and the milk on the coffee table. I will lean forward and take a bite of the sandwich. My mother will ask me what I am eating. I will tell her. She will say it looks good. I will ask if she wants one, and she will say she has just eaten, which is true, since she called me from a restaurant after finishing her lunch. I will take a sip of the milk and eat another bite of sandwich. She will ask me what kind of tuna fish is it that I am eating. I will say it is the kind I always eat. She will ask me which kind is that, and I will say I don't know, I would have to go look at the can to be able to answer that question. She will be angry again, though not terribly so.

She will be silent for a long time. I will ignore her and think to myself how petty I am when I am with my mother, how driven by the hard nugget of meanness inside me that never seems to fully dissolve.

I will get up from the couch and bring my plate with its crumbs and my glass of milk with its coating of milk out to rinse in the kitchen sink. Then I will put some water on the stove to boil for tea. I will walk back into the living room and sit down, leaning forward so as not to seem too comfortable, and wait for the tea kettle to whistle.

At which point I will decide to walk into the kitchen, stand defiantly at the front of the stove, and place my fingertips on the burner like a genius composing at the piano.

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