It’s after eight o’clock, the time of night you like to have a snack. Tonight it’s popcorn.  Usually, I say, “Do you want me to make it?”  Usually, you say, “Yes, are you sure?”

But tonight you say, “I know how to make popcorn.”  You say this in defense. You think I judge you incapable. Yes, you have made popcorn hundreds of times. But on an electric stove, in that pan, that thin aluminum pan, the one scarred from the dishwasher soap?

And later, not so much later, I walk to the kitchen, for coffee, for something, the way I make the rounds of this house, checking, but not really aware of checking, that everything is safe. No bumps in the rugs to trip over. No toys slipping into the darkened hallway. No power buttons left on and alone.

You are at your computer doing your computer things and I am looking at that pan with the decorative wooden handle and I am smelling the smoky black of burning grease. I will not take control of this situation. I will not pick up that pan. So I yell to you, “Get that pan out of here!” You get up from your chair, a little confused, but you do as I say. You trust me.

And, you take hold of that decorative wooden handle, walk with it to the back door, right before it bursts into flames, surprising you, surprising the snow where it lands.

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