We buried the salamander
Helen stood in front of the gas stove and watched the pasta as it danced around in the boiling water. The gold drops of olive oil swirled around like fish darting in a pond; she was mesmerized by the common occurrence--the physical fact--as if she was seeing something new and rare, as if she was observing some kind of miracle. She combed her hair out of her face and smelled her hands. Garlic. She sliced a lemon sitting in the fruit bowl and squeezed the juice into her palm, and rubbed it into her hands as if it were lotion. She liked the tingling, slightly burning sensation on her skin. She put her hands over the steam of the boiling pasta, and smelled her hands again. Lately, she had taken to smelling herself--but not only herself--everything. It seemed that the world smelled so close, so intimate, so green like a freshly cut lawn or freshly picked cilantro. She breathed in the steam coming from the boiling water and held it in her lungs. She looked down at her large belly, and touched it. She ran her hand over the smooth, well-worn cotton fabric that pressed against her stomach as if she were rubbing a crystal ball, as if that ball were telling her the future would be as good and warm as the evening sun that was filling her house with light.