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Lockdown

January 11, 2015

Note: A new device called the Kitchen Safe allows you to lock things away to keep you from getting into it, with a suggested use of locking down goodies to prevent you from mindlessly eating. Here’s a short story thinking about how this could backfire.

 

            Maria stared at the Kitchen Safe as if hypnotized. The cookies trapped inside seemed to call her through the clear sides, while the timer on top taunted her, reminding her it would be another five days before the container opened.

            “What are you looking at?” Jim asked as he came into the kitchen.

            With a guilty start, she said, “Nothing.”

            He looked at her closely. “It’s the cookies, isn’t it? I’ve been eyeing them, too.”

            Maria smiled, relieved not to be the only one. “Yeah. I don’t think I wanted them as much before we put them in the safe.”

            “Why don’t we put it in the cupboard, and then it might be easier if we’re not seeing it all the time.”

            “Good idea.”

            They quickly made space by taking out some mugs and stashing the safe in an overhead cabinet. Initially Maria was relieved, but she kept thinking about them on her way to work. When she saw the leftover cake in the kitchen, she thought that would ease her craving for the cookies. The first bite didn’t do it, or the second, or the third, although by then she’d had enough cake. She still wanted cookies, though.

            Two days later, she couldn’t take it anymore and stopped by a bakery on the way home. The smells alone intoxicated her, and she got a variety of half a dozen cookies. Walking out, she had ever intention of sharing them with Jim, but she decided to have one in the car. By the time she got home, the only remnants were a few crumbs on her coat, the empty bag, and a stomach too full for dinner.

            By the time the safe finally unlocked, seven days after she and Jim had put the leftover holiday cookies in as part of the New Year’s resolution to cut back on sweets, she could hardly focus on anything else. She had started fantasizing about them, remembering how much she’d enjoyed the various types over the holidays.

            “Are you ready?” Jim asked, pulling down the safe.

            She laughed. “I’ve been ready since about an hour after we put the timer on!”

            “I know what you mean. I’ve been dying to have them all week.”

            She and Jim stood side by side at the counter, watching as the seconds ticked down for the lock to open.

            The timer hit zero, and they simultaneously reached for the cover, pulling it off and diving in to snatch cookies. They ate where they stood, crumbs spilling everywhere, polishing the cookies off in no time.

            Only then did Maria pause. Wiping her mouth, she said, “You know, I don’t think this box helped at all.”

            “Tell me about it. I went through a bunch of Ben & Jerry’s this week.” Jim gave her a sheepish grin.

            “Yeah, I had some slip-ups of my own. Having it all locked away just made me want it more. It’s too bad, but what do you think we should do with the safe?”

            He considered. “Well, there’s no reason we can’t still use it as a cookie jar, is there? We just won’t lock it.”

            The next day, they made some chocolate chip cookies, had a few warm from the oven, and put the rest in the unlocked safe. Maria noticed how many remained a week later. More significant, she didn’t feel the urge to attack and eat all of them. In fact, she hadn’t craved them nearly as much as the week before. She contented herself with looking at them, knowing they’d be there when she wanted them, and then went about her day.

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