The Kettle

A short piece of prose

The Kettle

“I need a cup of tea!” My first thought as I step through the door, shutting the outside world behind me.

Letting my rucksack slide from my shoulder somewhere between the door and the kitchen, I exhale tired air as the careless muffled crumple of my static stuff misses my ears.

I enter the kitchen, outlines of furniture drawn in shadow as early as quarter to six now. I think of a time when I returned home in the sunlight as I hit the light switch, my hand a gentle fist.

The first few flickers of the fluorescents agitate me, their stark contrast to the dark a prod to the swirling throbbing beating going on inside my head.

All the thoughts in my mind settle like thick, dirty snow on tarmac and I trudge on through, dragging my feet over to the worktop where my kettle dwells, waiting for me to arrive home, as per our everyday, unspoken agreement.

Last night’s plates from my eleven o’clock meal of a vegetable burger and wedges straight from the freezer obstruct my parley with the sink and I hold my poor kettle at an arduous angle, listening to the displeased sound of a tap clearly wishing it was in someone else’s kitchen. It is not long before water starts to escape over the side but I keep it there, watching, waiting… maybe. I stare into the trickling curtain, the time around me seems uncertain, as I catch my breath, and the spark of some brilliant idea excites some neurons deep within my grey-matter, the curl of a smile ready to jump but my hands have pulled the kettle away and turned off the water before I can capture it.

I stay standing before the sink, my free hand held in the air with the impromptu intention of turning the water back on, but I snap myself out of it. I know it is too late.

Gazing into the annulated coil of the kettle I wonder why the spark walked out on me…

“Just about enough for a cup. That will do.”

I return the kettle to its holder and carelessly flick it on – a red light confirming what I already know.

A sigh escapes me and my shoulders slump as the red light stares at me, unblinking and all knowing, and by the harshness of its glow the white shell of the kettle feels dirtied and uncared for, slightly yellowed by the odd rays of sunshine which visit from time to time as though contractually obliged.

The water, which had until now been amassing in silence, begins to stir. Like a stone thrown into a lake, ripples spread out across the water and I watch the process through the small, plastic window. Soon enough it will have boiled, as other kettles have boiled before.

Slowly, but surely, a rumbling draws close and by the water which has woken, with words that go unspoken, the silence is now broken as it bubbles fiercer than before.

The kettle starts to shake and bubbles burst louder and louder, growing in a feverish crescendo of power and vigour. I catch my breath, and the thunderous roaring of the kettle deconstructs the kitchen all around me as it rocks violently back and forth in its cradle as though fighting to break free from boil after boil, toil after toil.

Through the little window, plumes explode, a faint but consuming red glow breaks through, somehow, but it does not matter; it excites me, it delights me.

In the manic mælstrom, I see. I steady myself as I notice I am rocking too and I break free.


In the little window I see a tear run down, joining a sea of tears which have run before.

Why I wrote it

I wrote this at a time in my life when I was in my third year of uni and life really wasn’t shaping up how it ought to have. University was a place where I once got marked on my ability to lay out a picnic, and the thought of four more years to fully qualify as an architect was wearing me down.

A kettle can also refer to a pressure vessel for boiling, and from there it evolved into a kitchen kettle to capture the everyday reality.

The point of writing this was to try to express how I was feeling about all this, and in it I have tried very hard to experiment, especially with the rhythm and pace of my sentences. Though in some places I may have missed what I was aiming for, I feel like I learnt a lot about my writing... and about myself.

On Reflection

“Shutting the outside world behind me” in the first line establishes a sense of willful isolation from the beginning.

“I think of a time” in the third paragraph alludes to a reflective nature to the protagonist.

The paragraphs at the sink express the perceived gulf between mind and body.

As the story progresses the pace quickens until suddenly dropping at the end. This reflects the jarring rhythm of the prose overall.

“First few flickers of the fluorescents.” Here I tried to create a sentence that was offbeat and hard to say, but it might just read as cliché alliteration.

Stacking –ing words like, “swirling throbbing beating going on inside my head,” in order to hold the moment in a jarring and repetitive way but might just make the piece annoying to read.