All was right with the world. The house was relatively clean despite the power outage and the pipes freezing. Alexis had been cast some sort of spell and water had magically appeared out of the faucets last night.
The table was set, snow covered the ground and clung to the trees in Bing Crosby fashion. I’d cranked up the heat to 67 to keep my out of town guests’ teeth from chattering. The house was cozy and lively, people coming and going, cartoons blaring, hot coffee, sautéed onions and roasting turkey mingled in the air confirming it was indeed another Thanksgiving.
Toby had flown in with Dean the night before and had been up promptly at 6:30 chopping. No, she didn’t want to use a chopper, she’s Italian. The Donaldson’s had arrived with the prodigal son, Mike in tow and were laughing and chatting over a wheel of brie drizzled with our newest Stinger™ - “The Naughty Nana” a ginger and pepper blend.
Ayumi (pronounced “I-U-Me), Henry, Quinn, Dean and Phoebe’s old babysitter was bustling about cooking cranberriies while her 7-year-old daughter Kaya played 57 rounds of tick-tack-toe with Quinn on the whiteboard in the kitchen. It was wonderful so nice to have Ayumi with us - she and her high school friend Ilsa had been the kids sitters since Ayumi was 15 and Henry was about a year and a half. I'd leave him with Ilsa sitting and come home to find Ayumi. They both lived in the neighborhood and would just let themselves in, use the pool and hang-out.
"Ayumi you should move up here," Mike suggested emphatically as he shoveled in some rosemary bread slathered Naughty Nana. "This is by far my favorite flavor," he informed me.
"Well," she said cautiously, "I do want to get out of Los Angeles. Life is such a grind what with being three hours in the car everyday." She lamented.
“Hey hon, can you get the second oven working?” Toby asked. “I have a few more things to put in.”
Taking a sip from my coffee cup I reached up to the cupboard and grabbed a box of stick matches. Absently I took the middle griddle off the old O’keefe & Merritt and began pressing and turning the red button Pablo my old plumber taught me to do. This is supposed to secure the ability to hold the flame.
Putting my coffee cup down on the counter took a nibble of brie and bent down and opened the broiler confirming the pilot was out. Striking the match I reached up with my right hand to turn on the oven. I guess someone had already turned it to 500 degrees. In split seconds it was all over. I heard the “whoop” and saw the plume of flame leaping toward me. Somehow I knew it wasn’t going to stop. I slammed my eyes shut. I could feel the flames reach my face and my hair crackling. Reflexively I turned my head pushing my self away with my right hand and throwing myself face down on the wood floor. I didn’t move a muscle assessing whether or not I was on fire. In between the screams of surprise that filled the kitchen I chastised myself for the crumbs on the floor now grinding into my cheek. I could hear my sister’s voice through the din. She was going to throw her scarf around me to put out the flames. Toby’s hand reached in. Everyone was asking if I was all right. My sister who I’ve lived through about a million tragedies with started making Michael Jackson jokes before I could confirm I still had my vision.
I was scared really scared.
I felt a sharp searing pain in my left eye and my right hand really hurt. Crumpled up, Toby and my sister lifted me to the sink. Lisa hugged me and Dr. Donaldson took charge, “Keep your hand under the cold water. Quinn, get her ice, Toby do you have any eye solution? Let’s get her upstairs.”
Once I opened my eyes and Lisa examined me asking all the familiar questions, “Does your eye feel scratchy?”
“I’m grateful I can see.”
“You dodged a bullet," she said squeezing my hand, "and sorry my Michael Jackson jokes were perhaps a few minutes premature.”
“We’ve had worse Thanksgivings,” I said smiling as much as I could manage. She nodded knowingly thinking back to Thanksgivings past – our grandmother Irene died on Thanksgiving, and there was the Thanksgiving, we were held at gunpoint…"Ahh memories, this will be the Thanksgiving Denise burned her hair off."
Now that our medical fears had been assuaged, Quinn came bounding in to assess the cosmetic. Scrutinizing my hair she turned to Phoebe, “I think what we need is to first deep, deep condition, can you get some mayonnaise and conditioner in here?” She turned her attention back to me and said in her most consoling Quinn-tone, “Don’t worry, you still have a little bit of eye lash, your eyebrows are singed but some are still sort of there and your bangs? Well, hats are really in this time of year. I saw some really cute ones at American Eagle.”
(None of our farm turkeys were harmed in the preparation of dinner - before the snow - Frank looks a little motley, but Brad is coming into his own - Alice is his mate - Silence matches Frank)