Being with Georgette #7
The letter sat on the kitchen counter for three days before Georgette opened it.
When I deboned the chicken, the letter was there. No return address.
When I trussed the chicken roll, the letter was there. Georgette’s name, with the last name from her first marriage, was scribbled in a sloppy hand; the rest of our address was precise enough.
But when I pulled the roasting pan with the ballotine and vegetables from the oven, the letter was not there.
Georgette had come in while I was cutting the vegetables and asked if I needed any help. I hadn’t. She had wrapped her arms around me and kissed the back of my neck as I sliced the carrots. She laid her head on my back and held it there for a moment, and then she must have taken the letter with her when she left the kitchen.
Georgette was not in the house. I had checked every room. I had checked the basement.
I put on my garden shoes and rain jacket and went out into the gloom of the rainy twilight.
The light was on in the potting shed at the bottom of the garden along the creek that forms the southern boundary of our property.
I never know where to step in her garden, especially in early spring before anything has sprouted. I don’t have a green thumb of any kind nor any awareness of what a mound or trench represents. They all look like paths to me.
I followed what looked like Georgette’s freshest set of footprints down to the potting shed.
The clear acrylic panel in the door showed Georgette sitting in the old wooden chair with her back to the door.
The back of her neck was bare. I wanted to kiss it.
I tapped on the window and said, “Dinner is ready.”
Georgette turned her head a quarter turn and nodded once. Then she resumed reading her letter.
I had finished eating and was doing the dishes when Georgette returned to the house.
“It smells so good in here,” she said.
“Your plate is in the oven.”
Georgette wrapped her arms around me and kissed the back of my neck as I scrubbed the roasting pan. She laid her head on my back and held it there for a moment.
Her hands bore the acrid smell of charred paper.
The next morning, on my walk around the property and along the creek, I found the remains of the potting shed still smoldering. The acrylic window was partially melted and entirely white, as white as a piece of paper waiting to bear a message of some import, or perhaps to record the recipe for Chicken Ballotine.