Frank & Etzle
Etzle took her place at the table. She called Frank over to come sit in his chair, where his soup was waiting for him. He begrudgingly sat down.
“Is this Chicken Noodle?”
“Oh, of course, dear. Your favorite…” Etzle patted the napkin where the spoon was. “You love my chicken noodle soup, remember? It’s what you asked me to make.”
“I don’t know about that. Chicken Noodle Soup…sounds awful to me …” He picked up the spoon with his wrinkled and shaking hands. He mixed it and stirred it and stared at it carefully for a few minutes.
“James wouldn’t like this soup,” he said, closely inspecting a piece of celery.
“No dear, of course James would not like this soup. James doesn’t like any sort of soup,” she said, agreeably.
Etzle never knew James, though Frank had been talking about him a lot lately. He was constantly being woven into almost every conversation anymore.
She wondered if James ever even existed, and if he did, where he might have been from.
Etzle fiddled with her napkin. She had made a piece of toast for herself on the plate beside her elbow, but it wasn’t anything she was feeling hungry for.
Frank ate a bite of the soup and then quickly slammed the spoon onto the table.
“Where did James go? You remember that time we were sitting down at the mill, and you asked him to dance?
“What a night that was! We danced and danced and danced. That was a good night… Did you know that was the night I met my wife?”
He looked at Etzle with a puzzled look on his face, like he was studying her. He pointed to her left cheek.
“My wife – she had stars in her eyes, just like yours. Where is she? Where is my wife? Why isn’t she here?”
Etzle smiled faintly. She put her wrinkled hand on his. “Eat your soup, Frank, it’s getting cold.”