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By Laura Stec

The Shape of (Hot) Water

Uploaded: Mar 4, 2018

I’ll tell you the shape of water, actually I’ll show you the shape of water after I tell you about the stupidest thing I’ve done in a while. So clueless, it’s catapulted me from writer’s silence back to the page as a way to atone for ineptitude.

Got one of those new coffee makers – the Chemix-type where you pour the water over the grinds for a slow drip. I’m not liking the process much. If you pour all the water at once, the coffee grinds go swimming which is not recommended for best results. But if you stand over the pot and dribble, it takes forever, the water cools down, and I just can’t babysit the morning coffee ritual.

Not matter, that fateful morning I was standing at the stove doing just that, frustrated with the process, foggy-morning brained. I actually have no idea what really happened. What I imagine is, I hit the water pot handle (Dumb Exhibit A: she has no kettle), jumped, spilled some water, jumped higher and then poured all the near-boiling water out of the pot and onto my stomach. Like all over my stomach. WTF? OOOUUUCCHH. So I throw off the clothes and go into response mode. Stomach under the faucet? Stand in cold shower? All of the above, then cold cloths over and over; one in the fridge while one tops my tummy. It starts to hurt, until my save-the-day emergency doctor landlord issues that most common diagnosis, “Take an aspirin and call me in the morning.” (Dumb Exhibit B: aspirin stops burning pain?)

As I lay cold-compressing, kitchen safety posters flutter like sheep in my mind. What's the most dangerous thing in the kitchen? I've been so aware of knives, but boiling water? I'm on top of boiling water, right? Hadn’t thought about it in years. Brought me back to culinary school. The pressure's on, kitchen temperature's near 100°, and wondering if my pants will slide down my waist as a sweat river rolls down my back, I move a gurgling pasta pot over the sputtering pork chop pan, and ooo boy, hella-sizzle later, did Chef yell at me! But I haven’t thought much about water since. The pain brought clarity. I’ve been taking boiling water for granted. Boiling water deserves a much more fearful approach in the kitchen. Finger cuts are milksop next to bubbling, steaming skin.

So here is the shape of water dear readers and a belly-felt note of caution.


Sometimes water can heal Elisa, but sometimes it breaks bad.