Last week when I checked on the potato, it had sprouted eyes. A day later, two spindly legs appeared. This morning when I reached into the pantry for a can of soup, a little, starchy hand reached back. The potato looked about the same as any other potato. Brown and lumpy with a bunch of ashy dents dotting its body, making it look oddly antiquated, like used charcoal or a petrified dinosaur dropping.
I carried the potato to the table and sat it on a can of tuna fish, its bulbous, unseeing eyes blinking rapidly in the light.
"Potato," I said to the potato. "How do you feel about folding clothes?"
The potato did not reply.
"And you're OK with bleach? No allergies or anything?"
"Very good," I said, and patted the potato's penny-sized hand affirmingly. "Very good."
We started with laundry, the potato moving quickly between whites and darks as I directed from the other room. Then we moved to dishes. Once, while playing a game of naked floor bowling, I accidentally rolled the potato under the couch. When it emerged a minute later, its leathery, crooked body shuddering with inaudible coughs, I noticed how well the miniature feather boa and matching headdress I'd made collected fur and grime. Dusting was soon added to the list.
"You know I appreciate you very much, right, potato?" I asked the potato as it pumiced my corns one night. "I really just needed the companionship is all, but we make a good team," I murmured, my eyelids growing heavy. As I drifted off to sleep I could feel the potato grind harder, its skinny, wilted arms pumping furiously over my feet before it collapsed, exhausted, beneath me.
Things went on like this for a while, the two of us existing together in a finely tuned rhythm. Then, after about the third month I stopped going to work, the potato typing my assignments as I dictated from the couch. Once I taught it how to order things online and take out the trash, I stopped leaving the house entirely. Mornings in bed stretched into afternoons and evenings, and soon I was doing everything horizontally. Slowly, my body began to fuse itself with the mattress, limbs melting into sheets, hair melding with thread. My skin took on a pale, paisley glow.
I directed the potato from my pillow then, a toy megaphone suspended from the ceiling. "Water the ferns!" I yelled, "TiVo 'Ellen'!" Meals were now served with a straw.
One morning when I called for the potato to bring me my breakfast, it walked calmly into the room, a kitchen knife clutched in one hand. It started at the bottom, slicing my lower-half into thin, finger-length strips. Then it moved up, my midsection pared into small, circular disks. When it reached the area where my shoulders used to be, I began to protest, my twisted hole of a mouth struggling to form words. The potato shuffled along quietly, its little eyes shut tight with exertion, and soon there was nothing but a pile of small, doughy shapes where my body once was.
It left the room then, the knife resting on the floor. My face had long ago lost its form; eyes, ears, nose, and mouth all molding into one. But in the distance, after the potato had been gone for a few minutes, I thought I heard a crackle. And then, faintly, like a curl of smoke dancing softly through the atmosphere, the smell of something frying in the kitchen.