I saw the steam rise from the center of the cast iron skillet.
Plain and clear.
Fumes of pepper and charred red wine wrestled with the stale air. All the while a pot of soaking potatoes gurgled into my ear drums, softening slowly beneath an explosion of starchy bubbles.
The meat sat for a moment, spitting and hissing. I watched it. As I gazed, the crust of burnt wine beckoned me. Imagining how delicious it would taste if I smeared it across exposed ridges of meat, I prodded my steak with a fork, moving it around, coating the bottom. Desiring more, I reached for the handle.
I knew not to do this--mostly, because I've done it before. Mostly because I've felt the scorching sting rip through my delicate fingertips like the candle beside me melts through string.
Time stood still in the delay. The steam gasped, clinging to the inferno holding it. My taste buds froze; the beckoning stopped.
One slow heartbeat boomed from beneath the surface; a pricking tingle followed. Growing in intensity, the pain eventually burst into the roar of a lion who just discovered his voice. My entire hand snapped back, back away from the skillet, back away from the counter, back away from the moment of absurdity. I jerked time into motion as I waved my angry hand, gritting my angry teeth.
I knew not to do this. I knew to wait patiently. I knew to use the towel beside me, the towel that wanted to help.
Instead, something erupted inside, bleeding illogical lava all over my brain, driving me to behave in ways a "sane" instinct would reject.
"I'll let you take a few bites before I talk to you," my husband said when he sat down at the table, knowing full well my hunger reached its threshold and my patience had worn thin. He knew nothing about my hand, about my burn, about my silly, stupid decision to clutch a "broiled" cast iron skillet.
I shoveled two spoonfuls into my mouth and everything relaxed.
"Did you hear that NPR story about ADHD?"
"I heard the tail end," I informed him.
"Well, I guess kids with ADHD burn so many calories they get hungry fairly often. And when they get hungry, this makes them pretty angry."
"They call it h-anger," he said, smiling.
I smiled back as I gazed at my middle finger, throbbing like a cartoon caricature, growling at me each time I pressed it against the cool metal fork, and drew it up to my mouth.