SPENCER’S FOUR O’CLOCK HOLIDAY IN THE OVEN • by Peter McFeely

Spencer looked out the darkened window of the oven. He could vaguely make out the kitchen and the dimly lit entryway to the dining room. The oven walls were cold, which surprised him. A draft blew in through the back. The oven was clean though, new and never used.

He heard voices muffled through the oven walls. They were coming, he assumed, from the living room. The living room was littered with empty, recently unpacked boxes.

He raised his head slightly to gauge the room between himself and the oven ceiling. His head quickly bumped into the metal. Luckily for Spencer, the oven racks had not yet been installed, giving him just enough room to sit hunched with his hands on his knees. Spencer wondered where he would hide if he did not have an oven, realizing that some people in fact did not. He decided it would be the bathtub. The bathtub, surrounding him, calming him and protecting him, sounded almost as comforting as the oven. Bathtubs with water in them, however, seemed to be an easy way of drowning yourself.

Empty boxes might be nice as well, he thought, trying to make sense of the conversation in the living room which had grown louder.

Spencer had read the other day, on some corner of the internet, that people in Denmark had the happiest marriages. Maybe if we moved to Denmark? He had thought. He had brought it up to his mother. She said she appreciated the thought, but didn’t think Denmark was the solution.

He had done some research on Denmark and discovered that Denmark is a leading producer of pork. He had subsequently encouraged his mother to incorporate more pork into their daily diet. As a vegetarian, she had politely declined.

The conversation was now moving out of the living room. He heard shoes clopping through the entryway and into the kitchen. He saw an outline of his mother and her blurry skirt pass. Marcus walked in after her and stood in front of the oven.

Spencer closed his eyes and hugged his knees.

Spencer had also discovered that Legos came from Denmark. This was the only of the pushes to Denmarkify the household that had been accepted. He had set up a domestic scene on the kitchen table: a small red house with a door in the middle, two yellow windows and a family eating dinner at the table inside.

Spencer heard the sink turn on and opened his eyes. He still couldn’t make out most of the conversation. The sound of the sink running was loud and bounced around the oven walls. Spencer watched the blurry outline of his brother as he grew louder and began to flail his arms into the air and yell. His brother suddenly grew quiet and, to Spencer’s surprise, seemed to be crying. The sink turned off. Spencer saw his mother walk in front of the oven and embrace his brother. A few seconds later she returned to the sink. She asked Marcus to preheat the oven and asked where Spencer was anyways?

Spencer heard the click of the gas turning on and the flame igniting below him. The sound of water running out the kitchen faucet returned, rushing between the oven walls. He wondered if kids hid in ovens in Denmark. He guessed not; he had never heard of anyone hiding in the oven before.

As the smell of the gas grew more potent, he thought about staying in the oven. But, he knew he had to leave sooner or later and come to terms with his new life, that was not in fact in Denmark. This is as good of a time as any, he thought.


Peter McFeely lives and writes in the basement of a large blue house in Fort Collins, Colorado.


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