Annie walked over to the sink and, still edgy from the long drive, stared out the window at the dark woods that stretched beyond the house toward the Connecticut River, and after that Vermont and the Green Mountains. She felt like an actress struggling to remember her lines in the revival of an old play.


Her thoughts drifted in and out of Tom's voice, which both belonged in the kitchen and was terribly wrong in it. Brian was speaking again about the shelter. Tom was talking about places to find used furniture. Why was he here? Whose idea was this, to have him come for supper? She guessed Brian's. It made sense it was Brian's.

She poured herself a glass of cider and returned to the table.

"I'll be in North Carolina," Tom was saying. "I'll help when I get back." He picked up one of the empty beer bottles, resting it in his palm as if he were about to juggle.

"When are you going?" Annie asked. He hadn't mentioned this trip.

"In two weeks."

"That's why I insisted he have supper with us tonight," Brian sad. "We've hardly seen him all fall."

"We'd been hoping you'd get here," Tom added, giving her a sober look. "It's too dispiriting, men eating alone."

They didn't sound dispirited when she walked into the house, Annie thought. Before they knew she was here. But that was okay. It was, actually, almost like old times, the three of them sharing a meal in the kitchen.

Brian brought the stew pot over to the table and served them each a bowl. If Tom weren't here, she would have already told him about the meetings with Mr. Bloomingdale and how he and her mother talked forever about iris borers.

She wound one leg around the other, crossed and uncrossed them, painfully aware of their three bodies in the warm kitchen.




Dancing in the Kitchen

Excerpt