The note simply said, “Went to the store for bacon, eggs, juice, and bread.” Luna wiped the sleep out of her eyes and looked around. The house was small but cozy. She hadn’t paid much attention the night before; she was too overwhelmed. On one wall was half a dozen photos of Washington DC. They were nicely framed and were quite nice. The other walls were mostly covered by book shelves. She ran her finger along the spines and read some of the titles, “Candide”, “Father’s and Children”, a collection of short stories by Rudyard Kipling, a book of haiku, and various tomes on chess.
She went into the bathroom and splashed some water on her face. The sound of the front door startled her, but she immediately heard Henry calling out. Henry had also picked up the morning paper, the headline was disturbing, and he wasn’t sure if she was ready. He hid it behind the credenza and headed into the kitchen. He heard the sink running in bathroom as he unpacked the groceries. Henry was an extraordinarily average cook, mostly he could keep himself alive, but he did make a pretty good breakfast. He hoped she liked bacon and eggs, and thought to himself, “Everyone likes bacon and eggs!”
Luna walked into the kitchen and said, “That smells delightful. Here let me help.” She took the spatula out of Henry’s hand and took over. He wasn’t use to being taken care of, and it made him a little bit uncomfortable, but she looked really happy, so he sat down at the kitchen table, trying not to think about the paper.
“Luna, you really don’t need to do that, I can make breakfast.” Henry said.
“You aren’t used to being taken care of, are you?” Luna said with a little smile, and then continued, “Why haven’t you found yourself a Mrs. Wood?”
Henry chuckled. He could tell she was feeling much better after a good night’s sleep. He liked seeing her like this. He also felt that a subject change was a good idea. “So, how long have you been working at the bakery?”
Her eyes got big, “I love baking, cooking is fun, but making cookies and cakes is the most wonderful thing in the world. I have been there for about 10 years. I make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world.” She said, sticking out her chest as she pointed to herself with her thumb. “Since I came to see you, I haven’t been into work though. I have been too worried.” Suddenly she was sad again.
Henry thought another subject change was in order. “What else do you like to do?”
She flipped the bacon over and cocked her head to the side, “I like books. I like books a bunch, they are swell. I have a degree in literature from Oberlin College. Did you know that the first woman to ever attend college went to Oberlin?”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Her name was Lucy Stone and she graduated in 1847. I wrote a paper about her relationship with Susan B. Anthony. It got an A.”
“I bet it did. Do you like to write?” Henry asked, seeing that her mood was on the upswing again.
Luna cracked an egg into the skillet. It didn’t even look like she was thinking about it, she was a machine in the kitchen. Henry just sat and watched her precise movements; it must be an Alexander trait. Another egg hit the skillet and she said, “I do like to write. I keep a journal and I write some stories, but I would never want to be a writer.”
“Oh, why is that?”
“Because when you get done writing a story, you can’t eat it!” She said giggling.
Henry laughed too.
They sat at the table and ate breakfast, telling stories and laughing about Henry’s college days. He had a thousand stories and she loved them. Her days at Oberlin were much tamer. Henry was exciting and he made her feel safe.
Henry told her that he was almost done with his cauls, and asked if she would like to come downstairs while he finished them. She said she would be down after the dishes. Henry tried to object, but she would have none of it, and sent him down to the basement to play.
When Luna came downstairs she sat next to the workbench and asked him about his project. Henry loved talking about woodworking, and wasn’t ready to tell her about the Headline. “Cauls are helpful in gluing up boards. You apply the glue to the edges, lay some wax paper over both sides, clamp them lightly together, and then put a caul over each end.” He said, while he sanded a small block of wood, and continued, “Once you tighten it down, they keep the boards from popping up when you tighten the clamps, and the wax paper keeps the glue from sticking to the caul.”
“That is quite clever. I use wax paper for cooking.” She said, and then asked, “How did you learn how to build a caul?”
“I read an article in a magazine. It described what I needed.” He answered, and then proceeded to list off the components, “8 pieces of 2 inch maple, cut to 36 inches long, and twelve 2 inch by 3 inch spacer block, plus some 5 inch bolts and knobs.”
“They look lovely.”
“Thanks, the directions didn’t call for it, but I spent a lot of time sanding each piece, so it will feel nice and I won’t get splinters.” He said with pride.
The rest of the morning was spent talking in the basement. Henry didn’t know that Big Mike was looking for him. He didn’t know that his phone at his apartment in the city had been ringing off the hook. He didn’t know about the fire.
-- Brian Meeks, http://extremelyaverage.com