Thursday, November 23, 2017

She licks the drop off her fingertip with childish delight

In this WWII story, Lenny brings back to mind his memories about Natasha and how she rescued him from a death sentence by the German soldiers after D-Day. But the beginning and closing frame the novel at both ends in the present, when she is losing her mind. This makes the memories all the more precious:
“I’m hungry,” says Natasha.
“Me too,” I say. “But we’re out of bread.” 
“Then, we must have cake.”
“How about Tart Tatin? It’s a French recipe. I learned it from you, years ago.”
“Yes,” she says. “Tart Tatin.”
I see you like the sound of it.”
“I do.”
In recent years I have served not only as the father to our son, Ben, but also as the mother, because my wife has become increasingly absent-minded. Of all the new tasks I have learned, the one I like most is baking.
So I get up to my feet, give her a hand, and together we go to the kitchen. I squeeze some juice from a lemon and have her add a few heaping spoons of sugar into it. Then I bring the mixture to a boil till the syrup turns thick and dark, like amber. I tell her to unwrap a stick of butter, which I add to the mixture. Then I pour it into the bottom of a ceramic pie dish.
Natasha leans forward, taking in the aroma. She finds a spot where the syrup has dripped onto the table. “Sticky!” she says, and licks the drop off her fingertip with childish delight.
I peel a couple of apples, cut them, and have her arrange the slices in a circular pattern around the dish, right over the syrup. 
“Fit them closer together,” I tell her. “Yes, just so.”
When she is done, her arrangement looks quite messy. I cannot help thinking how flawlessly she used to do it, years ago. No matter. Perfection is overrated. 

★ Love suspense? Treat yourself to a thrill ★
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