“Steak and potatoes,” Harvey said, never looking up. Eilene stood at the hot stove with a cast iron skillet warming on the front burner. The ritual began.
“Again?” She asked. “That’s what you’ve wanted every night now for a solid week. Don’t you ever want anything different?” She scooped a spoonful of lard out of the can and dropped it into the skillet.
“Nope. That’s what I want.” His tone was steady and certain. He picked up the knife and fork on either side of his plate and began to sharpen them against one another. His thick gray mustache twitched a bit with the sound of the grating metal but he kept it up nonetheless.
“Will you stop that racket?” Eilene demanded, plopping a piece of meat in the hot pan. You know, you haven’t asked me what I want.” She paused, took a backwards glance at the man sitting at the table and turned back to her cooking.
“Okay, Ellie — what do you want?” She knew he was teasing when he called her Ellie but she played along.
“Come to think of it — I would like a fish platter with white beans and hushpuppies. Maybe some onion slices on the side and a baked potato.”
Harvey suppressed a laugh. Eilene wasn’t quite finished.
“Then for dessert a big bowl of shortcake with sun-warmed strawberries just out of the field, and covered on top with cream.”
Harvey didn’t try to suppress his laughter this time. In fact, his tall, skinny frame shook so hard his chair rattled against the floor. Eilene put her hands to her hips. “Don’t go laughing at me, Harvey Taylor Wilson. At least I have some imagination. All you want is plain steak and potatoes.”
The room fell silent except for the sizzling coming from the skillet. Harvey stiffened in his chair after Eilene called him by his full name. He didn’t mean to get her riled, but he couldn’t help but laugh at her nonsense, especially when the smell of reality penetrated his nostrils.
Before long, though, fifty-two years of marriage let them ease any tension between them. Harvey relaxed into an easy posture. Eilene focused again on her cooking, gently applying her years of expertise to the food before her. Harvey told her a long time ago she could make a skunk have a sweet savor if she put her mind to it. He made her believe it was true.
She fixed Harvey’s plate first, then her own. They sat across from one another, passing a gentle look between them. Harvey blessed the meal.
“Hope your fish dinner is fine and fresh dear,” Harvey said. Eilene gave him a knowing smile. With that, they each cut into their Spam and took a bite.
Sheila R. Pierson is a stay-at-home mom of two boys; she is happily married and enjoys writing as often as she can. She has always written because she loves writing and has only recently began to pursue being published. She has decided to take a few chances in life.