A spill. The kind you don’t notice rolling down the side of your glass like sweat. You don’t notice it until you take the glass in your hand and there, on the counter, is a ring of milk, mimicking the arcs in the kitchen wallpaper, just a kiss, and at first you wonder, how?
Sometimes the gallon of milk in the fridge feels too full, too heavy. Sometimes your hands shake. Sometimes you manage everything perfectly, but a small keep of milk from the underside of the jug’s red cap spills out and there, there is milk on the counter again.
Sometimes you just want to wipe it away with your sleeve, even though you know the counter and your shirt will soon stink. So you wipe once with a dry paper towel, once with all-purpose spray.
You hate the word slosh. And waste. And careless. And anxious. Sometimes you think of the milk, of where it comes from, that it is milk, and it doesn’t seem so strange to you to cry in those moments about spills. Sometimes you think of your great-grandparents greasing pie pans with butter papers and drinking coffee out of mostly spent cream cartons. Sometimes you think of the fruit rotting in the bottom drawer of the fridge, hidden. Sometimes you want to throw it all out, all the deli meat and sliced cheese and spaghetti sauce and yogurt cups, throw it all out and start over, fresh.
You can take a glass from the cupboard, one clean but coated in white scale, and you can set it on the counter. You can lift the plastic milk jug from the fridge with your right hand and uncap it with your left. And you can pour yourself a glass of milk.
You can pour yourself a glass, you tell yourself. You tell yourself this as you pour, and you see the glass and you see the milk and you see your hand, and there is the wallpaper magnified through the curve of the glass but it is not yellow, it is not yellow, and you are not losing yourself, you are whole, you are whole, you are whole. You are whole.
Stephanie Olson is a mother and writer who lives on a family farm in northwestern Minnesota. She earned her MFA in Writing at Hamline University, and her work has appeared with Versus Literary Journal, Sacrifice Press, and Red Bird Chapbooks.