Short Story – The Burnt Toast

The toast is burnt again. He looks at the charred bread and holds it close to his nose. The smell is offensive. He dips his teeth into it anyway. His tongue meets the charcoal and his throat chokes up. He fights his instincts and swallows the burnt toast.

img_4643It is an August morning. It has been raining in the town for past three days. He has not stepped outside for a week. Not that he needs to. He is retired. No one waits for him to step out anymore. He wants to step out but he does not have the shoes to tackle all the mud and gunk outside. He sees a frog hop across the porch. He wants to murder it. He wants the frog gone. The frog, as if hearing his wish, decides to stay. It was going to simply hop away but now it has decided to try and enter the house. It hops onto the door.

He picks up his umbrella and walks toward the unruly frog. The frog sees the man coming from the corner of its round eye. It was not looking for confrontation but it doesn’t really know what to do. The spring in its hind feet has a mind of its own. The frog is now jumping and crashing against the corner of the door. It touches the bottom hinge and does nothing but wait. The man with the burnt toast in his mouth and umbrella in his hand reaches the door. He pokes the frog with the pointy end of the umbrella. All he wanted to do was to shoo the frog away. The frog is dead now. The thrust was not light enough. The man wasn’t devoid of unreasonable anger. He regrets killing the frog because now there is blood on its umbrella. He rushes inside to get some water. There is water on the porch, there is rainwater in his lawn. He needs the water in a container. With shivering hands, he splashes the water on the dead frog. The frog shows signs of life. He splashes more water on it. And the frog disappears in the mud outside. He steps down from the door and walks around the porch. The frog has been washed away.

The old man does’t know whether he wanted the frog dead or alive. He surely wanted it to go away and away it has gone. He returns to his living room after slamming the doors shut. A burnt toast on his table, a dead frog stuck on his shoe.

He nervously eats his toast. His wife is perhaps dead. He doesn’t know. She didn’t wake up this morning and she had been coughing for four days. He had given her a syrup. But she coughed and puked it all out. And she is not moving. He has tried to move her. He tried to call the ambulance but the phone was dead. He tried to eat but the toast got burned and now the frog is dead and there is blood all over the floor. He doesn’t know it for sure though. So he eats his toast in silence, unaware of the frog on his shoe.

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