Solo Cooking for the Recently Revived
by Aimee Picchi
I hide my right hand behind my back when Jamie steps into the rehab center’s kitchen. Like all the rest of the reintegration counselors, he’s a Survivor. And Survivors always stare at our scars.
“Let’s start with our motto,” Jamie says.
The class intones: “Food is life.”
My friend Myra hitches her thumbs on her belt, cinched to the smallest hole, and rolls her eyes.
“And?” Jamie prods.
“To cook is human,” we finish.
Every time I say it I imagine the motto will fix me, erase my scars and everything else that happened in the last year. Get me one step closer to Carter. I once confided my belief to Myra and she laughed. That motto’s not for our benefit, sweetie, she had said. It’s so they can believe we’re still just like them.
Jamie gestures for me to join him at the front of the classroom, the home-ec lab inside a former middle school. About twenty of us are lined up at ovens and sinks and Formica countertops where students scratched blocky initials inside of hearts. I don’t want to think about what probably happened to the kids.