Ketchup by Ellen Koukel
You are in the passenger seat in the middle of an empty parking lot, your feet resting heavy against the floor. You are chewing a burger and attempting to control the deluge of ketchup as meat separates from bun. This always happens, you think, as you frantically reach for the pile of napkins on the center console. The moon blinks from beyond the neon signs scattered around the parking lot; you saw the sign for Carl’s Jr. from the road, as bright and hopeful as fast food can get. You do not remember when you have last eaten – have you ever eaten? It feels familiar and yet new, the sensation of tongue and teeth gnashing together. The moon is small and so are you; the heat of the engine thrums through the floorboards beneath your feet. This car has always run warm. Time has passed since you last drove. This car once moved, slogging along through I-5 evening traffic, but you are now here, in an empty parking lot. You remember that you have a burger and the ketchup is still there, slip-sliding away. You eat.
Ellen Koukel is a graduate student in Seattle, Washington and this is her first publication. Follow her on twitter and instagram @koukellen