Man-Made Monsters

She cooked eggs when she couldn’t sleep because it reminded her of her father, and his memory comforted her. When she was young, he often prepared breakfast late at night. She would be slouched over homework, watching one of the four channels that worked on the family’s TV, or even bundled in bed reading, and he would call out from the kitchen, asking if she wanted eggs and coffee. She always refused the coffee due to her sensitivity to caffeine, but he asked every time regardless. They sat at the dining room table at 11 or midnight, sometimes even later, and ate their eggs with toast. Always sunny-side up, the toast for breaking into pieces and dipping into the yolks. “Dip-eggs,” he called them, as if that moniker was universally recognized. They usually had school in the morning; he taught a class at the community college and she was in high school, but the eggs and his coffee felt like a necessary bedtime precursor, like the Shelley and the Atwood he had read aloud to her when she was younger. She fell asleep listening to the stories of monsters and handmaids, the gloomy visions of women uneasy with the world, and he didn’t find that unusual. Just like midnight dip-eggs. Breakfast before bed was natural, even essential, and she held onto it, claimed it as her own long after she had bought her own Teflon pan and wrote essays about Frankenstein for her college English classes. The smell of fried eggs and buttered toast made her feel safe and contained, like she was not floating aimlessly but rooted to a constant whose presence was sometimes faint and unseen, but always felt, like electricity or thunder in the distance.

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