Eight eggs balance on the countertop like planets, although because it is nineteen-fifty there are really nine planets, although because it is twenty-eighteen really there are only eight.
A book about the Salem witch trials swallowed her earlier, and now the dinner threatens to be late with a slam of the oven door. They always tried to drown the witches before they burned them.
She has filled a bowl with water. If the eggs are good, they’ll sink, and if they’re bad they’ll bob merrily to the surface.
The first egg sinks down and taps the bottom of the bowl. It is good.
Her husband does not care for omelettes because foreign dishes have never sat right with him, or because he is the only person in the world who still cares about cholesterol.
The second egg is good. Tap tap tap.
She needs all eight eggs to cook this dinner. If fewer than eight are still good she doesn’t know what she’ll do.
The third and fourth are good.
She will cook this dinner, good egg that she is, rolling heavy around the kitchen floor, pinned by a great weight of water, because she is the wife, breathing underwater, or because somehow her husband has never really learned to hold his breath.
The fifth, the sixth, the seventh egg passes the test, drowns lowly without protest.
She sets the last egg on top of the water. It submerges, then rights itself to balance on one tight curve.
She dips a spoon in and nudges it up.
‘Float,’ she whispers, because it’s nineteen-fifty and those women who wouldn’t go back to the kitchen seem to bob up, lighter. ‘Come on, I dare you,’ because it’s twenty-eighteen and she has a daughter she would burn for.