Dirty dishes and empty serving platters covered the dining room table. Everything was delicious. Apparently, irritability and sorrow also made good secret ingredients. Liza refrained from asking Michael if he used to be a cook. It would be meant as a compliment, but after what he said earlier, she suspected that bringing up his “other life” might make him sad…or irritable.
Liza poured everyone a second cup of coffee. Bruce stirred a whirlpool into his mug while Jake peppered him with questions about the book versions of Gone With the Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire. Michael and Sam were trading cooking tips. She should probably listen, but she couldn’t focus on anything for more than a few seconds. Incomplete thoughts and fragments of conversation skittered through her head.
“I would say Gone With the Wind.”
Liza remembered the present sitting on her bureau upstairs.
“I’ve done an apple stuffing and a… ”
She tried to guess Bruce’s reaction.
“…but Vivien Leigh looks gorgeous in….”
“…gave me a recipe for a stuffing that’s made with plantains.”
She needed to go food shopping. There was no fruit in the house again.
“…Gable versus a young Marlon Brando?”
Liza poked at a tiny lake of gravy with the corner of her napkin.
“Tennessee Williams said that…”
“…need to write them down…”
It was hot in here.
Liza slapped a smile on her face and jumped up. Tiny flashes of light twinkled through her field of vision. “I’ll be right back,” she said. Jake and Michael didn’t buy it. Sam was scrolling through something on his phone and didn’t look up. Bruce refused to turn his head in her direction as he had all night.
Liza trotted up to the bathroom, closing the door louder than necessary. All is well! Just a regular trip to the ladies room! Liza sat on the edge of the tub and laid her head on her knees. She could probably get away with staying up here for four or five minutes. It was nice and cool. And quiet. The hum of the exhaust fan muffled the noise from downstairs. She closed her eyes and forced everything out of her head.