The Tea Kettle Awaits the New Widow's Return
Written By: T.D. Walker
The radio had heard it first: the death, off world,
leaving the test pilot a widow. The tea kettle’s AI
branches her possible entrances into the house.
Statistics say it will see her first. The cat has waited
impassively, walking around its food dispenser.
Later, there will be visitors, casseroles, a half-wilted
Boston fern. The kettle wanders through the forest
its logic-trees make: implications of platitudes,
clichés, what it has been programmed to say.
They’d bought the electric kettle months before
her retirement, the “Tea and Solace” series,
given it his voice, his persona. After she crashed
her last, they’d said, he’d go on talking to himself,
just as before. He’d go on making his tiny gardens–
terrariums for off-worlders–in cups, apothecary jars,
antique light bulbs. Once, he’d threatened to use
the tea kettle’s carafe. They’d speculate what would die first
in the terrariums: that sprig of ivy, that browning moss.
The radio plays static. The cat sleeps in
sunlight. The tea kettle waits, one more glass
container of what cannot be saved: its carafe,
her cockpits, his terrariums, the little threatened world
the morning of her return would become.