People always get asked; what’s your favourite food? What’s your go-to dessert? If you could only ever eat one meal again, what would that be?
But never do we get asked; who’s your favourite person? Who’s your go-to human? If you could only ever reside with one family again, who would that be?
Because I have answers. To all of the above. They’re pretty easy questions, really, since I’ve only known one set of people. The very family that I belong to. They have names, like me. They have packaging, like I do. And I’m sure they come in a variety of flavours, though, let’s face it, the original is always the best.
One of them - the youngest I think - she’s strikingly blonde. When the moon pierces through the blackness of the sky, it seeps through the gaps in the blinds, cast across her skin and she glows. I know this because I often catch her sneaking in here during the middle of the night, tentatively pulling open the cupboard and grasping me. Her hands are always warm.
Then there’s the eldest of them. Her shape resembles mine more so than any of her human counterparts. She’s set lower to the ground, pulled wider at her middle, a more rounded individual. White hair, folded skin, I barely catch her eye. I don’t think she likes me.
The tallest happens to be the most assertive, his authority a more stark branding than my very own. His voice booms, but his eyes glisten, especially when striding into the kitchen with purpose. He seems to snack a lot, overjoyous when he does, and we’ve become quite the trio - me, him, a rusting old teaspoon. I’m better directly from the jar, he says.
The other human I don’t see quite as often, though I hear him. His room is positioned directly above this room and clearly his feet directly above me. He drags himself around when he’s down here, but up there? He dances wildly. We don’t really associate. I heard one of them whisper once that he’s allergic.
Still though, we co-exist. This family and I. This family of mine. I don’t think they know quite how greatly I’ve come to appreciate them. They granted me a home, a place, a purpose. I watch them each day, more mobile than I’ve ever been, zipping in and out of the kitchen, entirely unaware of my existence, that is, until I’m required. Until they need me. And at some point, they always do. Which, as previous experience has shown, tends to fall on one specific moment. That special time of the week.
Friday evening. After dinner. Peanut butter time. There’s a film playing, different to last week, and the curtains are drawn. It’s that cold time of year, I can feel it as I’m inadvertently shoved towards my fellow cupboard inhabitants. Cold metal cans touch my glass and I shudder, think about cracking, but I hold back. The youngest is reaching in for me - for the first time today, according to the rest of her family. She knows I’ll never tell them about our 3:12am rendezvous - but she’s not looking, her head glancing backwards as she chats with her relatives. When finally she grazes my ridged plastic cap, her embrace finds me, pulls me towards her, takes me out. There really is no rush quite like that of freedom.
Catching a glimpse of the oven clock, it’s later than I thought. 10:47pm. They left their film night pretty late today. Everything around me is dark, save for the living room light - adjacent to where I live - spilling in.
“Just bring in a spare bowl and a couple spoons!” the deep voiced father instructs.
Within moments, I’m beside him, the rest of the family crowded round the rectangular screen. This is the most stationary I’ve seen them for a while, huddled together to watch other people move around. Is this what I spend my whole life doing?
Human beings have such odd rituals, though. Their behaviours never cease to amaze me. Complex and compelling, they’re not bound to the simplistic lifestyle that me and many other ingredients experience (except the live ones). They would not do well to simply sit and stew in place for an indefinite period of time, their value defined by their quantity, their quality and what they seem to repeatedly refer to as an expiration date.
Glass shatters somewhere nearby.
It’s deafening. It frightens me because that is a pain I can actually relate to. The family, my family, they look startled. The younger ones look scared. The eldest, torn from her sleep by the violent sound, looks confused.
“Be careful,” one whispers as another leaves the room to seek out the source.
I wish I could tell you what happened, but it all happened outside of where I sat, waiting patiently for them on the coffee table. All I know is that, hours later, when the light from the moon was masked by the blues and reds alternating outside the window, I saw them once more. This time they weren’t as mobile. This time they were as inanimate as I. This time they were wheeled through the living room and out towards the entrance. It was bittersweet, really, knowing that as I was nearing the end of my lifespan - mere spoonfuls left at the bottom of my jar - they somehow beat me to it. What happens to me now?
Something about the dark crimson - kind of like strawberry syrup infused with a puree - oozing from their hairlines reminded me of myself. What do people taste like, I wonder?
At least now they know what it’s like to be me. Cap ripped open, insides flowing out.
I guess people have expiration dates too.