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"Chick-la" by Nora Nadjarian

She’s the only thing left in the freezer, a chicken, hard as a rock.

He calls her Chick-la as an endearment. His ex disappeared one fine evening last week like ice melting in spring, and left a cold puddle on the tiled kitchen floor. Brrr… she was cold, he thinks, she was cold-hearted. He rubs his hands together.

They were together for three years and sixteen days. He only knows the number of days because she told him, just before she left. Typical of her, to count days, and yet it was her directness he’d always most admired. Shilly-shallying was his personal talent, as she so often told him. He should have asked her to marry him, he considers. Is that what he did wrong? Underneath that no-nonsense exterior did she secretly long for flowers and heart-shaped chocolates? She might have warmed to him, looked at him differently, had he come home with a dozen red roses held behind his back. “Honey, I’m home!” he might have said and she would have turned from the kitchen sink, and her heart would have jumped and her wide smile at seeing the roses might have made him human, a loved man. But too late now. Chick-la looks at him, or maybe stares at him, he can’t be sure. She’s wrapped in cellophane and has a sell-by date of ten days from now.

“Red or white, Chick-La?” He opens a bottle of red wine. “Italian or Indian?” He takes a jar of pesto sauce out of the cupboard. He lays the table with the white tablecloth still stained from the New Year’s Eve dinner. A couple of old bread crumbs are still clinging to the cotton. That night’s argument still not forgotten, he sets the table with two plates, two knives, two forks and two wine glasses which he fills to the brim. “Cheers!” he says and some of the wine spills as he raises the glass to his lips. Clumsy, that’s what she always called him.

Chick-la says nothing.

She sits on the chair across the table, thawing, slowly but surely becoming softer, fuller and fleshier, white as sorrow. Everything she kept inside oozes from the pores of her skin, a puddle forms. Then something tumbles inside him like great blocks of ice, and he wonders where his ex is now. He keeps looking at the chicken, dazed, filled with terrible disbelief.

Nora Nadjarian is a poet and writer based in Cyprus.

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