She’s a little bit chutney, he’s a little bit rajma dal

February 18, 2010

Audrey, Carl and Evan sat around the dinner table precisely one hundred and twenty degrees apart. Normally it didn’t matter who sat where or how close. But tonight Evan made sure they sat equally distant from each other. At best he might weaken his parents’ alliance yet stay out of reach.

Twenty minutes ago, he had come home from his dentist appointment only to be drilled by his parents. They’d asked some pointed questions…

Photo by Pam Wells ©2010

“Did you dent the refrigerator?”

“Yeth.”

“How?”

“With the jzhar of pimentoth.”

“Why did you lie about what you were doing at the airport last week?”

Evan shrugged.

“Can we even trust you anymore?”

“Uhh…”

“What?”

“Yeth.”

“And?”

Evan looked at his mom, his dad, his feet.

“I’m thorry.”

He hadn’t fethed up to—he hadn’t fessed up to everything, but it had felt strangely good to shed some of his secrets. Now it felt strange to keep some.

At the dinner table, Carl examined his plate of vegetables in a thick, tomato-y sauce. “What do you call this?”

“Biryani.”

“Beeryani?”

“The beans are called rajma dal,” Audrey said. “You know, grocery shopping was fun today. Too bad I had to come home.”

This was the kind of moment Audrey and Carl had down to perfection. They looked at Evan, looked at the big dent in the fridge, then smiled at each other. So much for weakening their alliance.

“Isn’t this good chutney?” she said.

“I like the rajma dal,” he said.

Audrey glanced at Evan. “How are you doing with that?”

“It’th okay,” Evan said, and wiped drool off his chin. His eyes met his mother’s cool stare as he swallowed a clump of oatmeal. It was the last bite he could manage.

Evan was excused to do his geometry homework. After Audrey and Carl went to bed, and after the lidocaine had worn off, Evan sampled what was left of the Indian dishes. Hands down, he liked the biryani best. Then he went back upstairs and knocked on his parents’ door. Now that he could talk, he had a little more to say.

©2010 Pam Wells


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