How to Make Boxed Shells: 8 Easy Steps by Brenda Nicholas
Fall in love too young. Feel heat rise to a boil, cleave to him until you turn tender. Say “YES!” half asleep when he slips a ring around your toothbrush. Finish your studies and move around the country to look for yourself as he looks for himself. Let your ideals of marriage drain out through the holes of your skin. Pretend you found yourselves. Mix together and melt like butter into a town the two of you agree upon—not too city for him—not too country for you. Decide it’s a good idea to have a baby before you begin an illustrious career with your Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Continue stirring. Leave him when you discover him stuck like powdered cheese to the side of his twenties during his thirties and forties. Work part time, go back to school full time, scrub your dirty pot of a house, ignore disorder in your car and every closet—perfection clearly beyond your energy level. In your free time, keep your kids alive. Stand half asleep at the stove stirring and stirring until you become one with the macaroni, stick to your obligations like alfredo sauce. Carve creative words out of the empty box you threw away in your chest—that unrelenting space that patiently waits for something more as you chew, and chew, and chew.
Brenda Nicholas is an Associate Professor of English at Temple College in Texas. Her work has appeared in The Painted Bride Quarterly, Main Channel Voices, Red River Review, Illya’s Honey, Menacing Hedge, Snapdragon, The Helix Magazine, and other literary journals. Her chapbook, Hari Om, Hurry Home is forthcoming at Finishing Line Press.