And so what if all the tupperwares were lined up and stacked along the community counter, gross and anonymous and labelled with various community names--none of them hers? Cindy, Hedy, Tomi, and Min--wasn’t that just permanent marker for Avi, Avi, Avi, and Avi? They were cloudy with freezerburn, congealed and old and forgotten in the very back of the common area fridge, rescued only because she was hungry, out of snacks, couldn’t get a response from various friends’ doors, it was sleeting outside, and--hey, it’s 100% true what they say--she had very low culinary standards.
She hung, dewy and string-wet, over a barely-boiling saucepan of… something brown. She lifted her face to the steam, inhaled, and grimaced. Her coat, socks, shoes, gloves, and hat were draped and melting dry over a kitchen chair; her wrinkly, bare feet curled on the tile and smeared something she spilled there as they knocked across to another lonely cupboard. She hovered by the stove heat and waited for her fingers to unprune. Didn’t anyone around her just keep crackers or something?
Jars of peanut butter (still good). Jars of jelly (moldy). Jars of presumably edible but wholly unrecognizable “materials” (?????). A quarter of milk left (expired). Eggs (untrustworthy). A half a cup of gravy, opened more than a month ago, kept frozen in a ziplock bag (oh dear god). Something that looked vaguely like a petri dish. She cluttered these out of the fridge and onto the counter, like any or all of them were still viable options despite the fact that dry mixes, flours, and salts were clearly the only safe things left in the room at all.
She sucked on a damp-looking joint (the shopping bag over the kitchen smoke detector--that might have been her doing) and flicked a dry-frozen noodle off of the crust forming on the side of an abandoned bowl. Still good? Probably still good, right? Good enough, at least. She was a skinny thing, reared on snack foods and takeout and invitations to dinner. There hadn’t been a homecooked meal in her life ever since there hadn’t been a home.
She blew a big puff of smoke and, with one hand, lifting to eye-level and peering carefully, seriously considered uncapping the milk.