Universe Encased in Red



How to cook an egg
when you’re lonely:
Crack an egg into a pan. It’s the last one you have and you forgot to pick up more at the store. Eat the egg open-face on toast while sitting on the couch, watching the same movie you watched last week.

when you’re watching your weight:
Crack two eggs into a bowl, carefully straining out the yokes using the shell to separate. Cook them in a pan, greased with the lightest touch of olive oil, and decide against adding any bread or potatoes to the meal. Dump the yokes in the trash. Ponder the use of salt.

on a Saturday morning, hungover:
Wait til two in the afternoon, and open the curtains. Crack two eggs in a pan seeping with bacon fat, and fry them.

on a Sunday morning, hungover:
Wait til two in the afternoon, then moan your regret in the darkness. Order a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich from your local deli. Order extra sundries (cans of soda, toilet paper, bag of Doritos, Snickers bar) to hit the minimum amount for delivery. Wait, then eat the eggs right away when they arrive, even if the delivery boy is late and the food is a little soggy.

How to cook an egg
while entertaining a lover:
Crack four eggs into a pan. Scramble in some peppers and goat cheese. Abandon the stove and let them burn.

when you’re hosting your in-laws:
Poach half a dozen eggs. Worry that you’ve overcooked them, then worry that the napkins on the table look shabby. Place each egg on an English muffin with a slice of Canadian bacon. Drizzle hollandaise sauce over all. Worry about the hollandaise. Don’t eat any of the food you’ve cooked.

for your daughter on her birthday:
Make a short stack of pancakes on the griddle, fry a few strips of bacon in a separate pan and remove when they are good and crisp. Fry two eggs in the remaining bacon grease. On a plate, take one pancake, and place one strip of bacon and the two eggs on top to form a smiling face. Sing to her. Let her have as much syrup as she wants. Eat the rest of the food yourself, standing up in the kitchen.

after a miscarriage:
Fry an egg in a pan with plenty of butter. Mourn the possibility of the chicken.

How to cook an egg
when your man has up and left you:
Put away the pan. Take a dozen raw eggs and chuck them at the bastard’s car.

I am a Tiny Red Speck on the Edge of the Universe

when the boxes aren’t unpacked yet:
Crack two eggs in a frying pan—no, you haven’t found the pans yet. Boil water with a little salt in the one pot you have located, and throw in the eggs. Cook for three minutes. Roll the eggs across the countertop to crack and peel the shells away, and eat the boiled eggs out of your hands. You haven’t found the plates yet, either.

How to cook an egg
when you’ve broken a bone:
Sit. Let your daughter bring you scrambled eggs with wheat toast on the side. Resist the urge to critique her technique.

when you’ve let your looks go:
Scramble three eggs in a pan. Add a generous helping of cheese and sausage, and fold into an omelet. Add extra sausage on the side, and also half a grapefruit, so your doctor doesn’t hassle you. Don’t skimp on the salt. Enjoy.

after a funeral:
Stand next to the stove and fry three eggs sunny-side up. Triumph in the fact that you’re still able.

How to cook an egg
when you’re alone:
Crack two eggs into a bowl. Leave the pan in the cabinet. Nobody judges what you eat for breakfast. Mix the eggs in with flour, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and baking powder. Eat cake instead.



Marissa Levien is a writer and artist who hails from Washington State, but now lives in New York with a kindly journalist and their two cats. Her writing and illustrations have been published in Slice, The Toast, Literary Manhattan, Storychord, Sundog Lit, and on the Glimmer Train Honorable Mentions Short List. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Fiction from Stony Brook University in Southampton. She also regularly contributes her literary wiles to the Greenwich Village Literary Pubcrawl.


For more on Marissa’s artwork, please visit her PubLab visual art portfolio page.