Story Series: Being with Georgette #7

“Interior With Ida in a White Chair”, 1900, by Vilhelm_Hammershøi

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.


Story Series: Being with Georgette #1


“The Ordeal of Sleep”, 1926-27, by Rene Magritte

Being with Georgette #1

I tried not to disturb her when I got out of bed, but Georgette was already awake.

Without turning, she said, “I’m sorry if I woke you.”

I said, “I’ve been awake half an hour. I thought I woke you.”

Georgette said nothing.

“Would you like some breakfast?” I asked.



An hour later, the tray was still next to her side of the bed, the food untouched.

“Your eggs are cold,” I said.

Georgette said, “I’m sorry.”

“Did you sleep?”


“All night?”


“I know how hard this is for you.”

She didn’t say anything.

I said, “Should I take the tray?”



Just before noon I entered the bedroom to take the tray downstairs.

Georgette was asleep.

I left the tray undisturbed.

I looked at her face. Pale, sad, streams of tears had run down her cheeks off and on throughout the night and soaked into the pillowcase.

She had never been more beautiful.

I left her to her sleep.

I left her to her sleep and went out into the snowy field in the freezing warmth of the winter sunshine. Birds flew across the deep blue sky over our small house in the distance.

Over my small Georgette.

My beautiful, warm, sleeping Georgette.