When the teenage boy returned from school on Friday, he dropped his backpack on the kitchen table and excitedly told the orange cat about his day. It had been a good day. He’d aced two exams and finished all homework assignments between classes except for one.
In a bottom cupboard to the left of the oven, the frying pan listened. As the heaviest pan, it was nested at the bottom of a stack of stainless steel and aluminum skillets.
The frying pan enjoyed listening to the kid’s ramblings. The kid had enthusiasm and wit. It was a shame the kid only talked that way when he thought no one besides the cats were around.
Breaking out his planner, the kid clicked his favorite pen and scribbled something in the margin. He paused. Scribbled harder. Messier. The pen. Had run out of ink.
The frying pan wasn’t concerned since the kid maintained a pencil case full of back ups.
Instead of hearing the telltale zipper sounds the backpack and pencil case, the frying pan was surprised by the sound of stifled sobs.
Concerned, the frying pan listened more closely. “Hey. HEY. Are you okay? What happened?”
Startled and rightly so, the kid froze with eyes like melons. “Who said that?”
“I did. Over here. Look down. Lower. I can tell you aren’t looking in the right direction—no, you’re walking away! Come back… loweeeer… Check the pans you use for making scrambled eggs.”
The kid bent and opened the correct cupboard. He only ever used one 10-inch pan for making a single serving of scrambled eggs.
“Hey,” said the frying pan. “You can call me Frying Pan or just Pan. I’m the one on the very bottom.”
The kid stared at the pan for a long confused moment. “What?”
The frying pan quivered as it spoke. “Nice to meet you, kid. Don’t bother tellin’ me your name, I won’t remember it.”
Shocked, the kid tripped over his own feet and landed hard on his butt. After some swift and effective coaxing, the kid warily removed the pan, inspected it, inspected the cupboard as well as the other pans, and then put the pan back. Satisfied that there weren’t any speakers or cameras, the kid ogled.
“Why were you crying?” said the pan which caused the kid to hastily wipe tears from his face. “Because your best pen ran out of ink? Stores still sell that kind, right? Can’t you get a new one?”
The kid sat on the floor studying the pen in his hands. He knew it was pathetic. But it didn’t change how he felt. “It’s not the pen… Well, not just the pen. I actually had really bad day. Bad week,” he corrected through emotion in his voice. “As usual. Earlier, when I said it was a good day, I was lying. Probably to convince myself it wasn’t so bad.” He scowled. “Why am I talking to the dishes.”
“Because I’m amazing and, who cares, your mother does the same thing.”
A vicious hissing sound turned the kid’s head. The black-and-white cat stood in the far kitchen entryway with the hair on its arched back standing on end. Its green eyes were wild and ears were pinned back. It didn’t venture any closer.
“I wanna help you,” said the frying pan, regaining the kid’s attention. “How can I help? What can I do?”
The kid offered a one-shouldered shrug. “There’s nothing you can do.” He took a deep breath. “I just have to survive until I graduate, I guess. What’s two more years, right?”
He fell silent and studied the pen. Eyes began to fill.
“Aw, man, please don’t do that,” said the frying pan. “You don’t want me to hug you. I mean, I could, because I’m magical, but I’m not very cozy.”
“I’m talkin’ to you, of course I’m magical. Oh hey, are you still reading that action book you borrowed from the library?”
The kid shook his head. “I haven’t started it yet.”
Hours later, the kid was curled up on the couch with the frying pan in the living room where they read the library book together. The kid and pan were still reading when his parents arrived home from work within ten minutes of each other. As Mom unpacked and washed the dirty Tupperware from her lunch bag, Dad walked through the front door. Greeting his wife, he passed through to the living room, pulling his navy blue work tie loose, when his gaze landed on his teenage son who looked up from reading a paperback while cradling kitchen equipment in his lap like a toddler.
Dad stopped short. “It’s out of the kitchen,” he squeaked.
Mom, wearing green medical scrubs, poked her head in the room with a grin. “The frying pan finally introduced himself to Josh, isn’t it great? Josh, sweety, the pan is terrible with names, so don’t be insulted if it doesn’t remember yours, it’s nothing personal. Hey, you know that pizza I made last week that was incredible? The pan’s recipe. Crazy, right? I feel inspired in the kitchen with it, we get so many ideas together.” She inhaled deeply through her nose. “I’m keeping it forever.” She then disappeared to resume washing dishes.
Removing his tie completely, Dad leered slightly as he skirted around the edge of the living room to close himself in the master bedroom.
“Your dad is weird,” said the frying pan.
The kid felt the pan nudge him. He turned the page. “I know.”
Mom called from the other room, “Hey, let’s watch a movie tonight. A couple of good ones just came out. I’ll make popcorn.”
[to be continued…]
Prompt: Frying pan defeats sorcerer and saves the world.
Source: The misinterpretation and miscommunication of a prompt from an online random plot generator.