Saponification

June 3, 2010

Eight months ago, after you left, I learned how to make soap. In fact, I uncovered the buried truth that adding any number of additives will not, after all, interfere with saponification, and that soap is actually a paradox. It takes oil to remove oil. And so eight months ago I came up with this recipe amid the desire to create something out of nothing not realizing it had already been done:

24 ½ ounces of Olive oil


12 ounces Palm oil


4 ½ ounces of Cocoa butter


6 ounces Canola oil


1 ounce Palm Kernel oil


6 ¾ ounces Lye


17 ¼ ounces distilled water

I made the recipe, but I never actually made the soap, which is my eternal problem. I start a project and then quit. The travel agency that I wanted to start but didn’t. The consulting business I wanted to go into but didn’t. The trip to Marrakech that I swore I would take but didn’t.  It was the same with you. The moment you moved in I wanted to quit. You told me, “You have a fear of commitment.” I was defensive. I admit it. I snapped back, “I don’t have a fear of commitment; I have a fear of commitment to you.”

I wish I could relive that moment now. I would come up with something better, like “I’m just afraid. Bear with me.” Or something like that.

Not that it would have made you stay, but…it would have been worth a shot.

So, like I said, I didn’t make the soap. Instead, I listened to DeBussy’s Claire de Lune while ripping the apartment to shreds, getting rid of every trace of you lest I forget for one moment that you were really gone. I sang Martha Wainwright’s “Wish I Were” lying on the floor of an empty living room, until my voice shattered into broken glass. I read Hills Like White Elephants and decided, eventually, we were better off going our separate ways. And I watched really bad romance movies like P.S. I Love You and Ten Things I Hate About You and The Notebook, my hand on my belly, feeling somewhat content that, even though you were gone, you left a part of you behind.

There are two things going on here. A birth and a death. And I still can’t wrap my mind around either.  I should have just stuck to soap. But eight months is long; a year even longer. We are only reminded of the length of time at the end, when we have the sensation that we are back there again, having come full circle; empty, where before we were full. Or should I say full, where before we were empty? Sometimes when it seems everything’s been lost, it’s an illusion. Nothing’s been lost. Everything is still there.  It’s just become something else in the process. And instead of darkening the soul with the burden of love, it washes it clean.

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50 Responses to “Saponification”


  1. First I thought, OMG you’re pregnant! Then I thought…wait this is fiction? Now I’m confused, but it all sounds so sad…

  2. Raul Says:

    This is a very deep and poetic post. I really like it…

    http://www.wutevs.wordpress.com

  3. sevenperfumes Says:

    Very much a fiction piece. Thanks for your comments!


  4. I love the thought and intricacy you put into this post. It’s wonderful!

  5. Beth M Says:

    I particularly enjoy the line about something better being “I’m just afraid, bear with me.”

    Interesting how “better” connotes along with admission of fear and emotion, rather than denial or accusation.


  6. Wow. Flash fiction at its best.

  7. aperfectversionofmyself Says:

    This is lovely – but aside from that – will the soap recipe work? Could you sent it with essential oils?

  8. hoiden Says:

    a birth and a death.very poetic. beautiful but very sad…love it…

  9. kowsdontski Says:

    Better than Hills like White Elephants. Maybe I’ll try the soap recipe.

  10. Renee Says:

    This is really amazing! I’m incredibly impressed and a little jealous of your talent!


  11. I love this post. I’ll be clicking by on a regular basis…


  12. I am glad you got Freshly Pressed for this; it’s a unique piece and you write well. As a first time reader, I was like “This is a great way to express your emotions about a breakup…oh, she’s pregnant…oh, this is fiction?!” 🙂

  13. Erica Says:

    delightful… wishing I could write just like you!


  14. Love this piece. I absolutely love that you added the recipe to the fiction, it makes it sound very realistic on some level.


  15. […] short bedtime read: Saponification. 深(chim), beautiful sadness I […]

  16. daydreamishly Says:

    This is incredible.

  17. Rose Says:

    With the joy of seeing where you are now, I still remember when your stories started with “ponce a time…” -love, mom

  18. sevenperfumes Says:

    Thanks kindly for all your comments.

    That recipe took months of research to conjure up, so I believe it works. And yes, I’m sure you can add scented oils to it. Try verbena.

    Thanks Mom! Nice to see you’re still reading my stuff. xo

  19. YogaSpy Says:

    I write a wordpress.com blog called Yoga Spy. Until now, I’ve never clicked on a featured blog (no time!). Today, I clicked on yours. The soap image and the word “saponification” piqued my interest.

    Anyway, I’m glad I did. Compelling piece of writing. Reminded me of Lydia Davis.

    Between my work as a travel writer and yoga teacher, I am typically too swamped to read fiction as voraciously as I’d like to. But your piece reminded me not to forgo the literary pleasures.

    Best,
    YogaSpy
    http://www.yogaspy.wordpress.com

  20. sayitinasong Says:

    Beautifully written!!!

  21. molly Says:

    This is so beautiful. I’m so glad I stumbled into it.


  22. Glad I clicked on your featured piece.. very intriguing and read to the last line.


  23. Great writing. Great description of emotion.

  24. Abby Says:

    That’s a beautiful and sad post. I love Clair De Lune too – the music just says so many complex things you can’t say with words. It’s good for the soul.
    Good luck with the soap and soul cleaning…

  25. nidifugous Says:

    Very nicely written. I really enjoyed it.

  26. latha Says:

    yeah really amazing .when I saw picture of the glass like pendent i thought something like a valentine gift, But later on readng , it is a fiction.Wonderful

  27. Catherine Says:

    Lovely.. how I wish I could have the talent like you…

  28. Patti N. Says:

    Now I have a desire to run around in the middle of the night, trying to make soap. Excellent piece.


  29. This is beautiful. I loved reading it. You completely had me believing it.

  30. Alissa Anderton Says:

    Amazing, for a fiction piece it is really quite full of truths…

    Everything still being there, even though you think you’ve lost it. I love that theory, and I do think I’ll try applying it to myself so I don’t get so caught up in being miserable over memories of what once was, or could have been…

    Thankyou!

  31. Mermaid Says:

    Touching and heart-felt! I enjoyed reading it very much.

  32. Todd Pack Says:

    This is beautifully written. You really are a good writer.

  33. 4riozs Says:

    I also lost the one I love, it’s over a year ago. But I continually nag myself wondering if I could have said more or done more.

    I like your post and the use of sapon.

    • philldotcom Says:

      It’s been a year for you. two months for me. Have you really gotten over him or her completely?

      I’m so stuck. I won’t ever burst through these emotions. I’ve fallen in deeper love with her. Getting over her feels totally impossible.

      • sevenperfumes Says:

        A break up is tough. But it’s not impossible. Every day you grow stronger, and then one day, you are completely healed. Every break up that I have ever had was a blessing in disguise. You are meant for another path; you are meant to meet someone else. You must trust what life has in store for you. From your vantage point, you cannot see that right now. From mine, I know you will be OK. 🙂


  34. עבודה מצויינת!

  35. nurul Says:

    pye jewww…ra mutuwww…

  36. bars38 Says:

    I also want to make soap 🙂

  37. kaiitiix Says:

    For fear of sounding like all the others, this is beautiful. You write incredibly well and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

  38. charlie Says:

    loved it ! beautifully written and I believed it was a real story until I started reading the comments 😀

  39. Stephanie Says:

    This is my first time clicking on a blog on Freshly Pressed and your short story is really beautiful. You actually had me there until I saw the line, “This entry was posted on June 3, 2010 at 7:08 and is filed under Short Stories.” 🙂

  40. kim Says:

    Love this! Glad I stopped by. I am suddenly feeling very inspired which is wonderful because at this very moment I need to be…

  41. fizzy Says:

    Insightful and touching…

  42. foxbey.com Says:

    It’s holiday time, so that I can plan what to go this year? Many fans plan their travel package well in advance,


  43. You write so intriguing!

  44. Vasare Says:

    nice heart shape soap 😀

  45. philldotcom Says:

    How could this be fiction. It sounds so real. In a way i was hoping it was real because of the break-up I’m going through right now. It’s been killing me for the past two months and i don’t feel like i’ll ever be able to get back up. I can’t stand without her. My feet feel like they’re just treading and dragging behind me. I thought after two months I would be fine. I actually feel worse.

    This post helped me see a few things a different way. It reminds me how much i want to turn back time and correct the wrong things I committed. Theres no turning back as much as i wish there were. If life is circular, I wish this part would break off.

    • sevenperfumes Says:

      Isn’t all fiction based on reality? Doesn’t art imitate life? This was based on events that happened a long time ago. All the more reason to believe that life gets better after a break up. 🙂


  46. This made me laugh and made me cry. Well written! It really made me share in your feelings. Thank you for sharing.
    http://www.denwrites.com


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