By Baron, Michael
Story Plant, The Copyright © 2010 Baron, Michael
All right reserved. ISBN: 9780984190546
From Chapter 1
"Yes, I know I’m late,” Anthony Gold said, not making eye contact with his brother or sisters as he entered the common room of the inn. "I’m sorry.”
"We’ll get over it,” Corrina said sharply. It was difficult to know these days if she was angry with him for a specific reason or simply angry with him for all reasons.
Deborah called out from the dining room. "Dinner’s gonna get cold. Is Anthony here yet?”
"I’m here,” he said, a little surprised they bothered to wait for him and simultaneously wishing they hadn’t. Though Deborah’s cooking would almost certainly be the most pleasant thing about this evening.
He made his way into the dining room with the rest of them, Maxwell clapping him on the shoulder as he passed by. These days Anthony felt more like the baby of the family around these people than he did since before he graduated high school. He had no idea why that was, given how world-weary the past year made him feel otherwise.
Deborah ladled soup from a tureen, something orange and redolent of cinnamon and nutmeg. She topped each bowl with a dab of sour cream and snipped fresh chives over that. Ever the maestro, even in this crowd.
"Deborah, stop waiting on us,” Maria said. "We’re perfectly capable of serving our own soup.” Deborah simply smiled at her older sister, finishing at last and sitting with the rest of them.
Then the lights went out. Just like when Dad died,
Anthony thought instantly. It was the night of the funeral. A beautiful but unsatisfying service that followed three days of communal heartache and eulogizing. Mourners came back to the inn with them that day, but the family gathered alone for dinner. Mom had been crying for a week, but just before the meal began, she stood at the head of the table, raised her wineglass, and said, "Joseph, what you gave us will be with us forever.” Anthony touched his glass with the others and sipped through his tears. He knew what she said was true, but it didn’t help him miss his father any less.
As Mom sat down, the room went dark. For a moment, no one said anything. And then Maria started singing, her voice somewhat otherworldly coming out of the black. She sang "Autumn Leaves,” Dad’s favorite song. Anthony joined her, the youngest sibling attempting to lend ragged harmony to the oldest. It was the only jazz standard to which he knew all the words. Soon, all of them sang, Mom’s voice, nearly as mellifluous as Maria’s, coming in last and with a purity that denied her sadness. When the song ended, they sat in silence, Anthony half-expecting Maria to continue.
At last, Maxwell went to the basement, flicked a circuit breaker, and the power came back on. But the tenor of the day, of that terrible week, was changed. After all the comfort they tried to bring each other at the wake and the funeral, this group song gave them a modicum of peace.
Anthony didn’t know that everyone seated at the table tonight flashed back to that previous power failure at the same time. All he knew was that the lights went back on of their own accord a few minutes later.
And this time no one sang. Continues...
Excerpted from Leaves by Baron, Michael Copyright © 2010 by Baron, Michael. Excerpted by permission.
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