Cassandra’s Tears

Tears of joy, tears of pain, we are reflected in the salt-water pools we create. So let us build a fleet of paper boats and sail them on our ocean of indecision, laughing at the wind-whipped white-crested waves that would wash over us, drowning us in our own despair, yet somehow never vanquishing us in the end.

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Location: Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The End of the Affair

Mary sniffled as the chopped onion stung her eyes and the tears dripped off the end of her nose.

“Could you pass me a tissue, please?” she asked John, who was seeding a tomato at the other end of the counter.

“Uh, sure, here,” he handed her a paper towel, slightly damp with tomato juice. “So, what did you think of the play?” he asked.

Mary threw the chopped onion into the wok, where it sizzled on contact with the hot oil. “It was okay,” she said.

“Just okay?” sputtered John. “MacBeth is a classic!”

“I know,” replied Mary, as she went to work on some cloves of garlic. “We studied it in school.”

John wrestled with the cork from the red wine. It suddenly slid out of the neck of the bottle with a resounding “pop”. “Wine?” he offered her a glassful.

“Sorry, I don’t drink when I cook,” she answered, putting the glass far back on the counter out of danger from the spattering oil. She quickly turned down the heat.

“Well, what did you like about it?” asked John.

“About what?”

“About the play!”

“Oh, I thought Duncan was really good, and MacDuff too, but the others were kind of weak,” Mary replied as she gave the vegetables a stir.

“Yeah, but what about the fight scenes?” asked John.

“I don’t remember,” she answered.

“Oh, come on, they were the best part!” he insisted.

“Could you pass me the carrots, please?”

Mary proceeded to peel and chop the carrots before adding them to the wok with a sprinkling of salt.

“Hey,” exclaimed John, “aren’t you going to add rosemary?”

“No,” said Mary, “I hate rosemary.”

“But I always put rosemary in my stir fries!”

“Well, if I’m going to eat it, no rosemary.” Mary quickly peeled and diced some new potatoes and tossed them in. Now she added a pinch of dill.

“So, what else did you think of the play?” asked John, starting on his second glass of wine. “What about Lady MacBeth?”

Mary stirred the contents of the wok, sniffed appraisingly, and threw in a handful of dried parsley and a bay leaf. “I thought she acted really well, but I hated her dress.”

John looked thoughtfully into his wine. “I don’t remember her dress.”

“How could you miss it?” exclaimed Mary. “Her boobs looked like two enormous bags hanging off her chest!”

John said, puzzled, “I thought she looked nice!”

Mary rolled her eyes and added the celery she had just finished chopping. “Would you please check the rice, John?” she asked sweetly. She glanced sideways at him and watched his glasses steam up as he lifted the pot lid. While his vision was thus obscured, she measured out a teaspoonful of cayenne pepper and added it to the now fragrant vegetables.

Replacing the pot lid and retrieving his wine, John said, “What do you say we go to a movie tonight after dinner? That one about the motorcycle racing looked really good!”

“Maybe,” said Mary. “We’ll see.” She now added to the wok the seitan which had been marinating in tamari and ginger and the chopped tomatoes, turned the heat down and covered it. “I believe I will have that wine now,” she said, and sipped it carefully. “I was thinking I’d like to see that new Hugh Grant movie, actually. I’ve got a newspaper; we could check the times.”

“Hugh Grant! You mean a chick flick?”

Mary noticed that the wine bottle was mostly empty. She quickly rose, got out the plates and cutlery and set the table. She emptied the rice into a china bowl and set it on the table. Then she removed the wok from the heat, placed it on a cork mat in front of John, handed him the serving spoon and said, “I hope it’s hot enough for you.”


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