Chapter 24 continues

So far: A search in the woods, but no luck finding Cloud.


I thought the comforting smell of the turkey — rich with sun and corn and soil — would pull Richard out of the air.

• • •


Richard’s mother’s box of real sterling silverware, one of our wedding presents, was stored at the cabin because we rarely used it. I opened the cupboard and got out two place settings of my mother’s old white Limoges china. We had another set of good china at the loft in the Cities that we traditionally used for the holidays. The wine glasses were clean and in the cupboard.

I washed the dishes and silver in the sink and dried them. They seemed like old friends, getting ready for the party. I was sorry to disappoint them with such a meager event.

Just me, I kept thinking, just me.

The red and gold bouquet shone in the middle of the table — a small burst of warmth. I went around the room and gathered up all the candlesticks and arranged them randomly at one end of the table. If I lit enough of them, I could eat by candlelight.

When I set the table, I thought it looked unbalanced with only one place setting. Unbalanced and lonely. So I put down another plate.

Chapter 25

As I was checking on the turkey for the ninth time, I heard something slam into the door and then it flew open.

“Hello?” A voice sang out into the hallway.

I recognized the voice and for a moment I was glad to hear Lucinda hollering into the house. It was nice to have someone come over. Then the full significance of why she was there sunk in.

“Happy Thanksgiving,” she said as she walked in to the kitchen.

“Lucinda, what a surprise. What brings you up this way?” I greeted her. We did the single air kiss. She smelled like vanilla.

“I guess you won’t believe me if I say you were on my way to somewhere else so I decided to stop off?”

“Not unless you now have a boyfriend in Bemidji.”

She laughed her cowbell laugh. I took her coat.

Lucinda had dressed for the occasion. But then she always dressed. I was quite sure she didn’t own a pair of jeans. I was also quite sure she saw what she was wearing as a casual outfit for a day in the country: wool tweed pants, brown cashmere sweater, large necklace of uncut amber, chunky earrings of the same. Slash of red, her signature lipstick.

She handed me the box she was holding. “Happy Thanksgiving.”

I opened it and saw an assortment of beautiful little creations — many different kinds of sushi with strips of ginger and wasabi. “Oh, fish for Thanksgiving?”

“I thought for a snack, appetizers or hors d’oeuvres if you will. I wanted to bring you something you couldn’t get up in the North Woods.” She looked around the room as if expecting to see someone else.

“Nice,” I said and took the box into the kitchen and stuck it in the fridge for the moment.

Lucinda made herself at home and wandered out into the dining room. She looked at the two place settings and said, “Oh, you expecting someone?”

Shit, how did I explain the other place setting to her? “Yes,” I said in a scramble. “But I’m not sure they’re coming.”


“No one you know.”

“Don’t mean to be barging in …,” she started.

“Not to worry,” I interrupted her. I wondered if there was any way I could get her to leave.


Tomorrow: Chapter 25 continues.