From Good River Review, A “Revived” Story from Kimbilio Fellow Donald Quist

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Lalita Rattapong’s New Microwave


I’m having trouble with Lalita Rattapong’s new microwave, issues with distance. Like, can the neighbors feel the universe fold in on itself whenever she reheats leftover panang? Do they hear time collide, past in present, echoes from a world older than the one they thought they knew, screeching in their ears like twisting metal? Can they hear the ding of the microwave’s tiny bell, snapping Lalita Rattapong back to now, her cup of noodles waiting hot and ready, her bare feet caked with fresh mud from the sixteenth century, the wet earth of an early Portuguese settlement staining the checkerboard tiles of her kitchen floor?


Is this the point of entry, a proper start to a story about a lonely woman and her microwave time machine? And what next? Will Lalita Rattapong share her discovery with Asami and Robert, two of her fellow copyeditors at the Bangkok Post? Aren’t they both well educated and better traveled? Will she explain to them how the microwave appeared to her in the labyrinths of the Jatujak Market beneath an ALL PURCHASES FINAL sign, how the microwave seemed to her a perfect blend of vintage design, atomic but ornamental style, art deco, with curving sides that plume at the top like an old-timey radio and thin white lines that reminded her of South Beach and spring break and studying in America? Does she tell them how the microwave brings the whole kitchen together, the warmth of its pastel ocean-water blue adding some much needed color against her exposed cinderblock wall without overshadowing the intention of her industrial aesthetic? Does Lalita tell them about the vendor: a small, wrinkled woman with no teeth and only a pinky and a thumb for a right hand? Does she mention how, when asked about the microwave, the vendor seemed not to recognize it? What about the old woman selling the appliance for just 900 baht without haggling? What about while carrying the microwave up three flights of stairs to her condo, Lalita found the words “Made in” embossed on its back panel with no country of manufacturing? Were these early indications?


What do Lalita Rattapong’s friends say then? Do they help her speculate on the origins of the microwave? Will Asami point out that it isn’t uncommon for manufacturers to unload faulty merchandise on developing countries, and will this prompt Robert to add a joke about how at that very moment some kids in Mexico could be kicking around a dinosaur egg that their mother discovered while warming empanadas?


Read the rest of the story at this link:  Lalita Rattapong’s New Microwave