At times, we find ourselves searching for meaning in the little things: a strong cup of coffee in the morning, the soft rays of light that peek through the window, or the chance embrace of a stranger in a crowded tube station. But imagine a world where that those moments were fuel for something bigger, something tangible and scary that lived inside your kitchen cupboard.
This week, Word Pauses Noises presents a new writer from the sunny beaches of California. Becky Whitt imagines what would happen to those moments of wonder we collect throughout our days. In this kooky version of reality, these moments are food for a ravenous beast that lives in the downstairs pantry, constantly crying out for young Katie to discover more wonder in the world.
Katie’s Wondrous Universe
Today the universe was hungry. He craved something unique, something delicate, something tasty. It needed to excite the pallet and stimulate the mind. Until this point, the universe had everything, every object, every being, and every idea. But now he wanted more. He starved for Wonder. Real wonder, not that fake kind you buy at the store, but wonder built on the absence of meaning. Wonder that opened up the ground beneath his feet. This type of wonder was rare and the universe knew there was only one place he would be able to find it.
Katie Wilson felt the hunger when she woke up. This was a hunger unlike any other, because it was not hers in any way. It belonged to something bigger than herself, bigger than the house, the city, the world. This hunger was the type only a universe could have. Some days his hunger was light and satisfied, but today it was raging and voracious. Today the hunger was more than it had ever been before, and she would have to work hard to satisfy the universe’s need.
Assuming this was the reason the universe had chosen her, Katie had an inherent knack for finding the random and unimaginable. Like her father before, she collected wonders of the world, objects that all others had discarded as waste. Because people seem to reject what they fear, her father, Mr. Wilson, had taken the brunt of the world’s anger toward their lifestyle. As a result, he had created a museum within their house, of all manner of knickknacks and intricacies, and various oddities and rarities of the world.
Fortuitously, these objects had become necessary to provide for the universe’s hunger. On some days, Katie wondered if her father had actually known about the universe. It was possible that his dedication was not just to random objects, but for specific pieces which were defined as wondrous. Perhaps Mr. Wilson had spent his entire life seeking out objects that, in the absence of true meaning, would open up a rift in time. Yes, it was all entirely possible, because this very portal was currently sitting in the kitchen pantry.
Some days the universe was satisfied and the hunger dissipated, other days the objects were left untouched, and thus began to add to the displays for the house. Only once had he rejected an item that he took later on, so Katie filled the rooms with the untaken items.
The items that the universe had rejected included, but were not limited to, a musical teapot that had once belonged to the elderly Lady Moira Flanagan of Yorkshire, a pair of soft but beautifully made leather boots, the espresso cup of one of South America’s most talented theorists, a newspaper clipping of Mr. Wilson’s obituary, and a silver and heavily gilded spoon.
Katie moved through the rooms in the house, heading for the wing of kitchen items. In a daze and still sleepy from the sanctuary of the snooze button, she was unaware that all the objects in each display had shifted one inch to the right. She did, however, bang the edge of her toe on the hall table. As a result of this rightward shift, the table now stuck out one inch into the doorframe, lying in wait for whomever was unaware of its new position.
Beginning with this unconscious and subtle shifting within the house, today was a day for adventures. The day’s possibilities were hidden between the slats of light streaming through the blinds. Everywhere the morning sun hit was a ray of whimsy yearning to be looked at, really looked at. In the kitchen, the light illuminated parts of Katie’s body, her hands and her heart, as well as the scar on her left clavicle. In the back of the kitchen, the stripes of sunshine contrasted with the dark wood of the pantry. Closing her eyes to the blinding light infiltrating her sanctuary, Katie reached for the coffee pot.
Shit. Oh, oops she thought. Preoccupied as she always was with finding new objects of wonder, she had completely forgotten to get more coffee. Ungh. There must be something I can use in here somewhere.
Though the museum-like house was far from spotlessly clean, like every neat freak in existence, Katie had one hidden drawer overflowing with chaos and crap. It was filled to the brim with everything which did not fit into the sterility of a clean room. In Katie’s case, the chaos was her pantry; two mahogany walls encapsulating the true instability of its owner.
Tea. No. Pineapple. No. Quinoa, what the hell? When did I even buy this? No. Tea, still no. Bread? Oh, eww, expired aaaand, no.
Searching through the pantry’s contents, Katie finally extracted a small silver canister with a single red petal on it. She assumed someone must have given it to her at some point in time. Hmm, smells like coffee… sorta. Well, good enough and she poured some into the filter, setting her life in motion as she pressed “on”.
The coffee was amazing and Katie wanted to know where she could get more. Sipping the refill, Katie finally opened her eyes to the morning and leaned out the kitchen window, face to the sun and nose in the air. With each swallow of coffee, she felt an inner peace within her, sliding down her body and taking root in her very soul. Something was taking hold inside of her, something foreign but not all together terrible. Unknowingly, Katie was drinking not coffee, but universal matter. As the pantry was a portal for the universe, he usually only took objects from Katie. However, today he had placed something instead, something that would eventually consume her and bring her to him. Whatever it was, it made the universe’s hunger mixed with her own, unbearable. She reached for a bowl and some cereal, grabbing the single spoon she had in the house.
Katie dropped the spoon into her cereal, splashing a pearl of milk onto her boots which were loud both in sound on the floor and in taste. Covering her calves up to her knee, they were about as useful as using a napkin to carry a baby. Because they were handmade by the renowned Vogel boot makers of Lower Manhattan for Sir Charles of Newport Beach, they were neither functional nor well fitting for a woman like Katie. Therefore, she tripped just about every third step, frequently down entire flights of stairs, and very often fell right into complete strangers.
One time, she tripped into Estoban Feliz who was one of South America’s most talented theorists. Feliz was frightfully surprised when Katie tripped into his arms, but he also then fell promptly into what he certainly felt was love. Only then did he realize that she was a. not his type, and b. way too young (see a. not his type). He subsequently realized that she had run away before he was even finished justifying his love and non-love of the dark-eyed woman in loose fashion boots.
However, that jolted hug and passionate feeling only lasted about ten minutes until he realized he was thirsty. Somewhere in between deciding to buy hot or iced coffee and whether or not his love handles were big enough to warrant a sugar-free flavor, Feliz made a life-altering decision. The choice effectively changed the course of the universe. In the exact moment that Feliz felt what he thought was love, he effectively turned Katie herself into something of wonder. Her fleeing the scene, combined with his disastrous emotions, created a perfect storm built on the meaninglessness of the situation. Therefore, Katie went from ordinary girl with objects of wonder, to an object of wonder herself.
This monumental moment, though unknown to both parties, was what opened up the first rift in time. This is what caused the universe to change his mind and shift his hunger onto only wondrous objects. He starved, not for the objects that Katie delivered to him, but for Katie herself.
To be continued…
Often times we forget to stop and appreciate the whimsy in life, but sometimes its the seemingly random that tether together to create meaning in our lives. Tune in next week for the conclusion of “Katie’s Wondrous Universe”. But until then, remember that WPN is now accepting submissions for anyone with a love for writing and a story that’s just been itching to make its way out there into the hands of hungry readers everyone. Readers hungry for wonder and whimsy and the moments that delight and intrigue.