Okay I lied. I’ve had this little scene in my head for days now and finally it was ready to come out.
Harley’s mother was twisted up in the cord of the phone attached to the wall closest to the sink. It was something she had never grown out of. Always on the phone as a teenager she would end up tangled without knowing how she got that way. Still she preferred this method never taking to the brick of a Nokia phone that lived in her car – permanently switched off unless she needed to make a call.
Sven had watched the process. She was on the phone with her husband and as she moved about the kitchen, cleaning dishes, putting them away, and preparing bagel after bagel for Sven’s empty stomach. Slowly she became entangled. When she hung up she methodically unwrapped herself almost performing a ballet as she did so. Mrs. Masterson briefly disappeared up the stairs to summon Harley. She returned as quickly as she had disappeared.
– Another bagel Sven?
– No. Thank you. Ma’am.
– Okay Sven, our home is your home. Just so you know. Don’t be afraid to ask for anything.
Sven nodded, not wanting to say “Thank you” again. It felt foolish to repeat himself again. The language used so casually here was leaps and bounds different from the stiff, clipped language he had learned in school.
– How was the ride with Jimmy?
Sven raised his eyebrows; his face growing hot.
– Sorry. Mr. Masterson. You know you can call us by our first names, yeah?
– Okay. I understand.
The kitchen, let alone the house, was very much old. Not the furnishings – everything was up to date and shiny – but the structure. The staircase from the singular bedroom upstairs opened directly into the kitchen. It must have, at one point, been the live in help’s quarters. This structure so that breakfast, lunch and dinner could all be served without the family ever having to look at the servant preparing their meal. The Masterson’s had a small dining table in the kitchen where they took their meals and the former dining room was converted into a makeshift office for Mrs. Masterson.
This made it very easy to hear Harley’s light plodding footsteps creak down the stairs.
When she rounded the bend and took the last few steps Sven noticed that Harley was looking at her feet as though she were unsure of her footing. She was barefoot in a light blue chambray dress. She had perfectly manicured, shoulder length, blonde hair. Her freckles made her look younger than the eleven years he knew her to be. She looked up. Quite the attractive young girl.
He did his best to sound casual and aloof.