Everything Is A Boxed Dinner – Kaitlin Noel Hanrahan

Kaitlin Noel Hanrahan is a third-year MFA poetry candidate at UNCW, with previous degrees in French and Philosophy. She has been published in print and online at Atlantis Magazine and Show Your Skin. She hates radishes and loves a good knife.

EVERYTHING IS A BOXED DINNER
By Kaitlin Noel Hanrahan

standing in line for teriyaki soba noodles at the saddest mall in america.
my total? $11.11 baby.

the chef is wearing a white chef hat and pours liquid on a flat hot circle.

someone in the food court is wearing a tiara.

also a silk sash that says ‘north carolina princess’ in red.

she is sipping from a chick-fil-a cup while in line for dairy queen.

someone else is wearing american flag shorts.
american flag socks.
american flag sliders.

also a t-shirt that says ‘it’s all good in the hood’ above a photo of mr. rogers.

I came to the saddest mall in america today in search of a paprika-colored sweater.
(had a good dream about wearing a paprika-colored sweater.)
found one instantly.
it just materialized onto the first empty hanger I saw.
the fitting room was ugly (made me look surgical) but I still bought the sweater.

just realized something.
the end is coming a lot sooner than any of us expected.
really soon.
a few days from now I think.
we need to start wearing all-chrome outfits as soon as possible.
red blinking lights.
microchips.
defroster grids shaved into our heads.
fuschia latex body suits.
radioactive fallout fashion.
or else we’re never going to get the chance to live in the future.
the future how we thought the future would be.

that’s the real shame.
that makes me feel like both

1 a dark and glimmery oracle, and

2 a wasp being dragged and grated against the sidewalk by baseball cleats

the people in front of me order double meat right from the get-go.
warn the employee taking our orders,

“alright now, don’t fuck us over.”

with the paying extra and all.

 

the chef ladles scoops of meat and brown syrup into our to-go boxes.
he almost fills mine.
but now they’re shouting about skimpy portions.
demanding refunds.
I stand up on my tiptoes to appear unfazed.
maybe comes off as impatient.
someone in line wants to grumble with me, like

“ugh can you believe this”

but I don’t feel like it.
nothing is ever big enough or worth it.
I already know this!
the customers are throwing their food on the ground now.
two boxes slapped down. brown syrup meat mess.

now I’m home eating noodles.
my roommate and boyfriend both claim my sweater is not at all paprika.
but I think they’ll come around.

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