2016 Barrett Winner
3rd Place Brittney Arafat
Four legs and a flat surface. Cover it, color it, stain it, and drape it. Some are wood, glass, metal, plastic. There are so many varieties, limitless colors. Like a person crawling on their knees, a slab of stone thrown across their back; a burden that should be too heavy to bear. That was where he always came to feed his appetite. Not for food or sex, no. The kitchen was used to feed me reasons about why I wasn't good enough. “You were too lazy to wash the dishes?” “I told you to shut the hell up,” and “ugly worthless bitch.” He would smile as he devoured the pain his words caused. While families rushed to the table to gather, laughing and eating, talking and storytelling, my meal was of the emotional kind and always left a bitter taste in my mouth. So when he told me to go from his house, from his kitchen, from his table, that would be the last meal we’d share together there at that red scratched surface. The last words he would ever mumble to me across that hellish divide. When I moved to my new place there was one item missing from the masses of boxes and furniture. Four legs and a flat surface. A kitchen table is a symbol of togetherness but without one, I could finally hear the fluttering wings of freedom.