Sunday Stories: “The Onion”


The Onion
by Sacha Bissonnette

When Charles finished his volunteering at the library, he arrived home at exactly 5:16 pm. He knew it was exactly 5:16 pm because he checked his watch at the precise moment when he exited his car, walked up the driveway, and twisted the doorknob to enter his house. The first thing he saw when he came in was a large, singular onion sitting on his dining room table.

The onion was perfectly round and a strange tone of off white, like eggshell. Exactly halfway between a white onion and a yellow one. Charles considered himself an onion connoisseur. He and his wife had once kept a meticulous garden that included an eclectic variety of different types of onions, such as Bermuda onions, Egyptian onions, and Torpedo onions. He remembered the planks that lined that garden and their youngest son running through the rows like a maze. Later, when his wife died, so did the garden, and a grieving child is not like a garden. He needed more than just water and sunlight. So in time, the son went away too. 

The first thought that Charles had in relation to the onion was an obvious one: How did the onion get there? Had he purchased it and forgot? He had read that the biggest concern regarding dementia is not that you forget how something may have arrived somewhere, but forgetting what something does. Charles did some quick mental math to ensure he was indeed still all there, still all with it.

Charles placed the onion in the fridge for safekeeping. He went to change into his house clothes, but then he remembered that his wife never placed their onions in the fridge. All that light and moisture would cause them to mold and sprout. When he finished changing, he removed the onion from the fridge and placed it in a wooden bowl that he kept on the kitchen counter. After warming up a frozen dinner and watching a few hours of TV, Charles went to turn in. It took a while for him to fall asleep, but after an hour of tossing and turning he was finally able to get some rest.

The next day at volunteering, Charles’ mind could not stop drifting back to the onion. At one point, he accidently rolled a book cart over a student’s foot. The student yelled out dramatically, which you aren’t really supposed to do in a library. Charles knew that he was older, slower and maybe less attentive than the other staff, but he also knew that he was once the librarian. That meant something. Still, he was a proud man and he liked to keep up as much he could. That damn onion had become an issue, he thought, an issue that needed some sort of solution.

Charles arrived back home at 5:20 p.m. on Thursday. As he opened the door he glanced over to the kitchen counter. He couldn’t believe what he saw. The onion sat on the counter, a few inches from the wooden bowl. Charles slumped in his chair, depressed that the onion was getting the best of him. He worried he would never know how the onion got into his home in the first place and that he would also never know how it jumped out of a bowl. He worried about it all through another frozen dinner, four hours of TV and even several chapters of his thickest book. 

He worried so much and for so long that he started to lose sleep. He started to lose the rest he needed to be well prepared for his days of volunteering. With all of these feelings of worry and concern, Charles decided to give his son a call. It had been too long he thought. After the call he was able to eventually fall asleep.

The next day, which was a Friday, Charles was tired at his volunteering, but he felt better now; He felt resolved. He had a plan, a solution to the onion issue. Charles had woken up early to look for his late wife’s French Onion Soup recipe. Though it had taken quite a while to locate, he found it just in time to still make it to volunteering. It was in an old chest of his most beloved memories of her, dusty and tucked away in a crawl space. It had been years since he had tasted that soup. He had forgotten which day of the week she used to make it, but he knew she always made it at least once a week.

After volunteering, Charles rushed to the grocery store and then rushed home. He did so much rushing that he even forgot to look at the time while walking from his car. He dropped the stuff on the counter, threw off his work clothes and began to cook. 

The recipe called for large sliced onions. Charles pulled his favourite knife out of the block. He reached for the onion and peeled it with care. He was gentle as he removed the rough outer layer. As he made the initial cut, he remembered how his wife used to wear her swimming goggles as she sliced through her onions. He paused for a long moment, then realised he could not wipe his eyes for they would start to burn, too. So he just let them run and finished slicing the rest.

As the soup was simmering, the doorbell rang. He opened the door to see his son Marcus standing there before him, holding out a bottle of red wine. Marcus caught a look of embarrassment, worry, and sadness cross his father’s handsome but wrinkled face.  

“Hi, Dad,” said Marcus.

Charles started apologizing. “I’m sorry Marcus, I don’t remember inviting you. I haven’t been sleeping so”—

 Before Charles could finish his thought, Marcus jumped through the doorframe and embraced his old father. 

“It’s been too long, dad. It must be Saturday. It smells like Mom’s soup.”




Sacha Bissonnette is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He is a reader for Wigleaf TOP 50. His fiction has appeared in Witness, Wigleaf, SmokeLong, EQMM, Terrain, Ghost Parachute, The No Sleep Podcast and elsewhere. He is currently working on a short fiction collection as well as a comic book adaptation of one of his short stories. His projects are powered by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. He has been nominated for several awards including the pushcart prize twice and BSF three times. He has been selected for the 2024 Sundress Publications Residency and is the winner of the 2024 Faulkner Gulf Coast Residency. Find him on ‘X’ @sjohnb9 or at his website

Photo source: K8/Unsplash

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