The Next Day Part 3

March 30th, 2012 by Wordsman

“I didn’t expect you to come back so soon.”  The woman tried to act nonchalant and conceal her happiness, but she didn’t do a very good job of it.  She hadn’t had anything to be happy about in a long time.

“I was out and about anyway.”  Despite his strong desire to remain comatose, Peter had been unable to resist the summons to Friday Night Family Dinner.  For one thing, he had said he would be there, and Peter Hamlin did not go back on his word—unless he had a very good reason, or the word was ambiguous in the first place.  Also, after the phone call he realized that he had not eaten anything since the half a bowl of Caffeinated Cereal Catastrophe that morning.  So he dragged himself out of bed, lurched over to Carmine Street, and headed home for the second time that day.  He was greeted energetically by Sourdough, rather coolly by his human family members (who were impatient to eat), and not at all by Cicero.

After everything that had happened, however, he was unable to stomach the thought of yet another subway ride, so he decided to crash at his parents’ house for the night.

“I thought you could use something to eat,” he continued, reaching into a small paper bag and producing a muffin.  It was smaller than the last one she had been given, dotted with one of those berries with a name you think just has to be made up, like the nannyberry.  The top was a swirl of golden brown and a deeper, more granulated brown.  It was no longer warm, but even so the smell was at the same time both heavenly and devilish.

The woman couldn’t stop smiling.  She couldn’t remember the last time she had had to work her cheek muscles so much.  “Why do you people keep bringing me muffins?”

“What?”  Peter was still only really familiar with the woman’s bitter, aggressive side.  He wasn’t sure why anyone else would go out of his way to bring her breakfast.  He wasn’t sure why he was doing it either.  “Who else brought you a muffin?”

“Oh . . . I don’t know, actually.  It just sort of appeared one day.”

“. . . and you ate it?”

“Yeah.  Listen, when you’re trapped somewhere for a long time, you do a lot of stupid things.”  Then, either because she wanted to avoid going into a list of those things or because she didn’t want to admit that she had eaten the mystery muffin after only having been down there a week, she took a bite.  It had a kick, more of a kick than muffins should really be allowed to have.  But it was the exciting, invigorating kind of kick, not the “Ohymygodwhereismywater?” kind.

“Fanks,” she said, chewing.  “Buh I fough you be cahing up on yo seep?”

“I did.  I went to sleep right after dinner.”

Well, almost.

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