Wednesday’s Wafers: weekly series in which I share some of my own recent writing
Happy Spring! I hope you enjoy my short story below.
Ch. 1 Preparation by Karolyn H —– [Ch. 2] [Ch. 3] [Ch. 4]
She plucks the apron off the wall hook, and tips her head forward to fit the halter around her neck. She pulls her thick, brown hair back into an elastic scrunchy, then ties the two apron strings behind her back in an uneven bow.
She bends down to pull open the cupboard door and reaches in to grasp the handle of a medium-sized pot. She carries it to the sink and twists the faucet handle to run the cold water.
Holding the stainless-steel pot under the steady stream, she watches the water splash. Her thoughts drift, a smile tugging at her lips. Secrets dance in her eyes.
The pot overflows, so she pours the excess water into the basin. Turning off the faucet, she picks up a towel from the counter, and dries the bottom and sides of the pot. She places it on one of the front stove-top elements.
Examining the knobs, she peers closer to see the symbol that shows which knob controls which element. A fly on the wall might wonder why, assuming she’d cooked on this range countless times before. She pushes in the knob, turning it to the highest setting, feeling it click into the groove.
Walking to the far end of the kitchen, she steps into a small pantry, and pulls the cord hanging from the ceiling to turn on the single light bulb.
To her right, cans of soup and boxes of pasta are patiently positioned in haphazard rows, collecting dust until chosen. She ponders for a moment, tapping the tastefully manicured nails of her right hand on the shelf, then selects one of the boxes.
“Fusilli it is, then.” Turning off the light, she moves toward the stove and trips over a small black furry creature streaking between her feet.
“Spooky!” she tsked, “you’ll be the death of me yet.” Chuckling, she bends down to stroke the kitten who had returned to curl his tail around her ankle. He looked up innocently, his purrs rumbling loudly.
Steam was rising from the pot, as it had just begun to boil.
Swiftly, she pries open the box and empties its contents into the simmering water. A rebellious corkscrew-shaped piece escapes and lands on the linoleum, only to be captured and batted about by the playful predator.
She lowers the heat, and stirs gently with a slotted spoon for a few seconds. While the pasta cooks, she gathers a colander, two cobalt glass serving dishes and forks, along with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
Searching the refrigerator, she collects a few ingredients and sets them on the countertop next to the cutting board. Withdrawing a knife from its slot in the wooden block, she twists her wrist back and forth, watching the sunlight shining through the window play along the sharp edge.
She slices two cucumbers and one red onion into very thin slivers. After she’s finished, she sweeps the slices into one of the serving dishes.
In a small metal mixing bowl, she combines lemon juice, vanilla yogurt, fresh dill, a small portion of sugar, and a bit of salt and pepper. After adding the mixture to the cucumbers and onions, she sets the serving dish in the fridge to chill.
The pasta should now be just about perfect, so she turns off the stove and removes the pot from the heat. She carefully strains the pasta, then transfers it to the second serving dish.
Her tiny companion’s mewing is persistent, so she stops to feed him before continuing.
After adding a liberal amount of olive oil in a circular motion over the fusilli, she sprinkles salt, pepper and garlic powder on top. Satisfied, she then piles the dirty utensils and dishes into the kitchen sink.
The faint sound of tires in the driveway tickles her ears, and her pulse races in anticipation. She rushes to set both serving dishes of food on the round dining table covered with a pale-yellow tablecloth and white napkins.
She unties her apron and hangs it back on the hook. In front of the hall mirror, the slim, petite woman lets down her hair and inspects her reflection. Arresting eyes, whose color matches the shade of the serving dishes, express brief indecision. She wonders—not for the first time—who the woman gazing back at her really was.
A key turns in the lock, and she turns toward the sound. She runs her fingers through her hair and adjusts her blouse.
Game face on. Smile. I’m ready.