I squint my eyes as the sun reflects off the blade. The rays are coming through the closed window and bouncing into the kitchen. Almost sweating, I hold the onion in my palm, with my arm straightened at my side. My right fist clenches the handle of the knife, a grip loose enough for my blood to flow. A small cloud passes over, dimming the room.
In full concentration, I look at the colors of the cutting board. Dark browns gently swirled with lighter hues continue to the edge in parallel rivers. My right wrist starts lightly flicking, hitting the back of the knife on the wood. Tap. Tap. Tap.
Suddenly the sun glares off the metal into my eyes. Nearly blinded, I fling my left hand into the air, holding the Red onion out of the light for a second. With the swiftness of a peregrine falcon my arm swoops to the counter and pulls back abruptly at the last second. The calculations are made subconsciously, honed over years of practice. Gravity and the power of the dive push the onion downwards, while my fingers snap it back. With perfectly balanced force in every direction, the vegetable beauty is suspended in space for a second. The onion turns ever slowly, in harmony with the Earth below it. A falling maple tree seed hovers above the ground in the woods outside the window, finishing its last helicopter-like rotation. Then, all at once, the onion and seed drop down as I become aware of where I am.
It was as though I had never left. This is the one. I know it as I slowly carve off the ends. I know it as I grab the red tunic and begin pulling back. Unlike anything I have seen before, it peels off in one smooth motion. No mess, no pieces. I turn and hold the outside of the onion to the window, staring at the faint red sun shining through it.
“The perfect onion,” I whisper.
Whipping my head around, I look at the cutting board. It has finally happened.
“The perfect..” my voice gives out and I close my eyes, not wanting to tear up. Gathering my wits, I square myself to the wooden cutting board.
The ball and toes of my dominant foot lift off the ground. In a consistent rhythm, I beat the callous of my foot onto the porcelain tile. Tap. Tap. And my bones begin to sing.
Vibrations carry through me, until I feel my heart join in unison. Inhaling sharply, I fill my lungs to full capacity in a second. This is a belly breath, my chest remains still while my diaphragm does the work.
“Huhmmm,” I bellow through my nose. The rich sound reverberates off the floor and walls, filling the room. Tap. Tap.
“Hmm huhmm hmmmm”.
Tap. Tap. My left fingers begin drumming on my side. It is time.
The peeled onion looms over the cutting board, dominating the space. I bring the knife next to it. It doesn't flinch. With my left hand I pick it up. Tap. Tap. I thump it on the board lightly.
Thump. Tap. “Hmmm”. Tap. Tap. Thump.
Not a single movement.
Statues in an empty courtyard.
Falling leaves caught in a picture.
An entire ocean without waves or ripples.
This one I can do myself. The time I had waited, the fear I had faced, the love I had given. I know I’m ready. I close my eyes. I lift the sturdy blade to the edge of the onion, breaking the stillness of the room. Then I begin.
The Comanche Natives speak of a particular moment when the first rays of dawn fly over the land. If the sky is completely clear of clouds, one may have a chance to see it. At first it is no more than a radiant line moving swiftly across the grass. But do not be fooled. Peering closer you begin to make sense of the shapes in the light. Then your breath stops and your heart skips. You see the most beautiful creatures galloping across the terrain, shining stallions tied to the sun, tails dancing seamlessly with the rays. All at once the silence of their flight covers you and you are forced to squint in the brightness. It is not until then that the sun finally peeks over the horizon, greeting the world.
Going only by sense of touch, I cut off the first slice. The second one falls just as smoothly, like a knife through butter. I can feel the slices and their perfection. My eyes are watering, from the sulfoxides. Actually it can’t be, my eyes are closed. What will I do when this is all over? I position the last piece of onion and divide it evenly into two. It is done. Resting the knife on the cutting board, I step back. Inhaling deeply once more, I slowly open my eyes, squinting in the light.
They say many would stay up all night waiting for dawn, only to find the morning sky full of thick clouds. They would peer over the plains for hours, searching for the anticipated moment. Some would wait weeks, others years, until the light finally came...
The cutting board is dazzling. Sunshine beams off of the diamond tipped blade. Adjusting to the brightness, I fumble to the counter. Unable to wait I look down. My breath stops and my heart skips a beat. Fourteen uneven slices of onion lie before me. I blink rapidly, knowing that my eyes are still recalibrating to the light exposure. All at once I feel the pounding inside my chest and my head.
“It’s not how it seems at first! Everything will be ok!” I yell to myself, knowing I am only lying.
I don’t even bother double-checking as I turn toward the window. I reach for the counter as I lose balance, only to find my sweaty palms sliding across the marble. I thought I could do it. I thought...
Tap. Tap. Tap. Groggily, I open my eyes. A steady wind is blowing the branches of the maple tree, carrying spinning seeds into the window. Without lifting my head off the floor, I lay on my belly, watching the breeze. Tap. It has begun to get dark outside, and the last of the sun peeks through the trees. Then the wind stops, and all is silent. In a moment almost too short to notice, the light retreats from the kitchen. If I had blinked I would have missed it. Closing my eyes, I can still the shining tail, swishing from side to side.