I received some beta-reader feedback this week, and used it to do some mild rewrites on His Other Mother. I've posted a couple of other scenes from this novel previously (chapter 3: the kidnapping; and a thoughtful chapter with Kirk at the beach). So, if you like it, you can check out some more.
This chapter comes in the second section of the book. It was one of the first scenes I wrote for the book. Sherry, the main character, is on a baking binge as a coping mechanism for dealing with her latest disappointment in her fertility struggles.
Sherry had spent her sick day baking, trying to knead out her frustrations over the failed final round of Clomid. If Clomid wasn’t going to work for them, they were running out of options. In vitro was almost as expensive as adoption, with no guarantee of a baby at the end. Sherry wasn’t sure she could take it if they tried it and it failed.
Slamming down the last loaf, now ready to rest and rise, Sherry thrust her hand into the middle of the first one, punching down the dough and her worried thoughts—the usual litany of self-blame for past mistakes or for waiting too long--if, if, if, if only—the usual whining self-pity that even her subconscious recognized and scorned as weak.
The dough sank satisfyingly, releasing a burst of yeast-scented air into the room. The oil on the outside felt good between her fingers as she worked out the blisters. She began to form a round loaf out of this one, a “rumpy” as she called them. No-manners bread, Gram called it. She had been partial to it, too. Her bread was the kind you could tear hunks from when it was fresh from the oven, warming your fingers in the steam. Eating the bread like this was as much a part of the ritual as kneading and baking.
As Sherry cut the traditional criss-cross pattern into the loaf, she eyed the knife and thought about putting similar markings into her forearms, thought how that might let something out, relieve a pressure valve. She put the knife down with a clattering force, shoving the thoughts away roughly and turned up the volume knob on the little red CD player perched in the windowsill. She hadn’t done it, but her imagination had supplied a stunningly clear vision of what the cuts would have been like. Obviously, she hadn’t yet succeeded in shutting down her over-active brain. “Stop torturing me,” she said aloud, wondering if she was talking to herself, the doctors, or the gods.
Sherry was wrist deep in dough when she heard the front door open. Kirk didn't call out or come straight to her with his backpack still on and his keys still in his hand like he would have six months earlier. A year and a half made for eighteen disappointments; eighteen nights spent soothing his bereft wife—who could blame him if he was in no hurry to face another one? He knew the calendar as well as she did. He had hoped, too. She could hear him close the door gently, hang his keys on the hook, place his backpack in the closet and head quietly to the bedroom for a tee shirt and jeans.
By the time he appeared in the doorway, watching her with that careful, questioning look she had come to dread, the loaf was coming out of the oven. That was good because they didn't have to talk. She wondered if he had stayed out of view on purpose, listening for the sound of the oven door opening before coming in. She set the loaf on the stovetop, and, without giving it time to cool, ripped into it with her hands, glad to feel the mild burn on her skin, and offered a hunk to him.
He took it, stepping nearer, but still staying at arms-length, watching her while he chewed. They stood like that and ate the whole loaf while she finished making the others. It was the only supper they ate that night before taking their respective sides of the king-size bed and turning back to back to stare at opposite dark walls. That was probably when Kirk gave up. Sherry was sure he didn't even hope with her anymore. If there was to be any more hope, it was up to her. Sherry didn’t think their odds were good.
My other #SaturdayScenes contributions:
Week One: Elopement Day from WIP, Cold Spring
Week Two: Linda Makes a First Impression from WIP, Her Father's Daughter, sequel to Going Through the Change
Week Three: Claiming Alex, from unpublished novel His Other Mother
Week Four: Things Get Hairy for Linda, from unpublished novel Going Through the Change
Week Five: a poem: A Clear Day in Kodiak, Alaska
Week Six: a snippet from an idea barely begun, Lacrosse Zombies
Week Seven: Mathilde's Visit, from WIP, Cold Spring