Everyone at some point has wished to travel back in time to replay a misgiving, to know the rules of the game and try change a past event that left a bitter aftertaste. Not because the event was particularly bad, but just because you know that it could have gone so differently, so much better. What a wonderful chance it would be, to keep what knowledge you have earned through just living all these years, but to be much younger when this knowledge would have been most useful.
James is a newborn baby boy with just this attribute. He has 20/20 hindsight of events that are yet to occur like shadows of objects that are not yet in light or pain from wounds that are years from being opened. He is not yet physically able to communicate like one would expect, sporting such an unnaturally developed brain, but he understands everything, seeing his world through the bright, blue eyes of a man eighty years his elder. James has never cried and has never laughed either, but he just exists to act out a play of which the script is all too familiar.
So you see, James cannot alter his life. He is destined to never experience a fresh feeling or discover a surprising taste or to cough so loud as to embarrass himself. He already knows what hides around each corner and what exists to jump out when he flicks on the light switch. James has already lived his life and is deeply disturbed by the notion that there is nothing else to it.
Today though, is different. Today, our unique baby boy has learned something new, the only information one in his position is capable of learning as he already knows everything else he will every need to know. Rules are made to be broken and James sees he can only break his once. What he has learned excites him like nothing else and as his grandmother plays with him he laughs for the first time.
“Oh, you are such a cute little boy. Aren’t you the cutest? Aren’t you just the cutest? Yes you are.”
He knows each syllable she will speak.
“Are you hungry? We have a delicious dinner today James. Are you hungry?”
He laughs when she rubs his tummy.
“Yes you are.”
But not because she rubs his tummy.
“Come baby James, lets go see what’s for dinner.”
She carries him to the kitchen over her shoulder, patting his back along the way. He burps and questions whether he burped because he was going to or because he knew he should have and just complied with what he felt was fate.
“Ooh gassy” comments grandmother.
In the kitchen, a fully stuffed and basted turkey awaits the oven in a pan, surrounded by vegetables and potatoes.
“We have a big turkey, don’t we? Look at the big bird. Doesn’t he look tasty? We have carrots. See, orange carrots. And we have potatoes and broccoli and look at all the soft peas we have. You like soft peas, don’t you?”
James doesn’t like soft peas but his distaste for them is overshadowed by a twang he feels in his heart and a new tension in his stomach. He has seen his whole life unravel from birth to death and all the landmark moments he will experience, walls erected and monuments destroyed. He has seen his father beat his mother and smelt the boozy breath as he hides under his bed. He knows what it feels like to loose his virginity and the pain experienced in passing a gallstone. He understands the joy in conceiving and raising a child. But in a few moments he will experience what he longs for above everything else. A surprise ending.
James stretches in his grandmothers’ arms, preparing himself for when time ties itself in a knot and he no longer recognises himself or the external world around him but for his blanket and the arms holding him. He can feel the change coming and realises the connection between his grandmother and himself as it slackens and becomes almost visible before him. He sees blue blips ruffling along a viscous, white string connecting his forehead to his grandmothers and almost like Morse code he sends a message:
“Put me in the oven.”
“I am the turkey. Put me in the oven.”
“I look delicious. Put me in the oven.”
His grandmother holds him tight, her eyes dazed over.
“Oh, it’s looks like the turkey is ready for the oven. It won’t be long now James. Just you wait.”
James mind purifies as he is placed gently in the oven, his grandmothers old hands being careful not to let him slip onto the floor.
“Just you wait James. The dinner will be ready in no time.”
The open pan roasting method will consistently create a juicy, tender, golden brown, picture-perfect turkey.
Place thawed or fresh turkey, breast up, on a flat rack in a shallow pan, 2 to 2½ inches deep.
Insert oven-safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Brush or rub skin with oil to prevent drying of the skin and to enhance the golden colour.
Place in a preheated 325 °F oven.
When the skin is a light golden colour and the turkey is about two-thirds done, shield the breast loosely with a tent of lightweight foil to prevent overcooking of the breast.
Start checking for doneness a half-hour before recommended end times.
Turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches the following temperatures:
180 to 185 °F deep in the thigh; also, juices should be clear, not pink when thigh muscle is pierced deeply.
170 to 175 °F in the thickest part of the breast, just above the rib bones.
160 to 165 °F in the centre of the stuffing, if turkey is stuffed.
Let turkey stand for 15 to 20 minutes before carving to allow juices to set.
Four hours later, James is removed from the oven. His skin is a golden brown, still juicy. A wicked smile accentuates his reddened cheeks, which have remained round and chubby. As his grandmother slices into him, she remarks with her own greedy smile, “Hmmm, looks delicious. Just delicious.”