By Alison Asagra Stoos

November 8, 2021


I’ve forgotten about the sourdough starter again, bubbling in the warmth of the oven light, the only temperature-controlled environment we have in our apartment. The only control I can exert lately, as the world keeps somersaulting into another new normal.

It’s past midnight and my husband’s already asleep in the bedroom, oblivious to the lights still waiting for me to come turn them off.

I drag myself off the couch, halt my scrolling thumb that’s been deep in the news, propelled down the rabbit hole, dangerously close to reaching the abyss.

I pull the jar of sludge onto the counter, tip the lid off and take a whiff. No, that can’t be right—isn’t this supposed to be gratifying? Wasn't there supposed to be miracles within this ordinary thing?

Sure, okay, I think. Let’s keep going. I consult the internet: a stranger is certain that I can—that I will—turn this slop into beautiful, bountiful bread. You can do it, she writes, and I want to yell. None of us really knows what we’re capable of.

Still, I follow her instructions. Afterwards, I tuck the jar back into the oven, back into its cave of promise, and part of me is hopeful, rooting for this improbable thing to happen, just like the day before. I’ll do it again tomorrow—I want to be convinced. I’m ready to be wrong about everything I once held true, forced to believe in optimism I can see.


Alison Asagra Stoos is a fiction writer at Indiana University currently completing her MFA.


Picture by Amy Humphries courtesy of Unsplash

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