The frozen bagel rolled out of the bag and wobbled before crashing down onto the counter. Bits of ice clung to the exterior. I picked it up and put it on the cutting board – its rigid body struck the hard plastic like a jackknife hitting cement. I sighed, wondering why all the gluten-free breads had to be frozen; most of them crumbled easily and none seemed to have the capacity to generate a sandwich.
I stared at the bagel’s frozen exterior, trying to come up with the best strategy to cut it in half before toasting. I pulled out a sharp knife, held the frozen bagel in one hand and placed the edge of the knife along the seam. I cut around the outside and arrived back to the place I started. I tried to pull it apart only to realize the blade had not cut through the bread – I had only succeeded in tracing a line around the outside of the bagel, but nothing more. I picked up the knife and tried again. Little beads of sweat broke out on my forehead. My muscles grew tired with the effort, but I tried to talk myself through it – “This is good, you are making an effort to change your diet to reduce the flares of the old lady”.
The knife blade wobbled and bent, but nothing would cut through the bagel. I pulled out another knife and tried again – still no success. I pulled out another knife and another – after ten minutes, my counter was covered in knives, tiny bits of frozen bread crumbs and soggy ice chips. My bagel resembled a victim of Jack the Ripper. I grabbed another bagel and tried again; still, I ended up with nothing but crumbs and cold sore hands; I was about to give up, when I turned around and caught sight of my microwave…
I happily spread cream cheese over my newly toasted, gluten-free bagel. I gleefully took my first bite, but my victory was slightly diminished when I set my eyes on the tiny war zone that was once my counter.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.