AtoZ2014: Vinegar


Carmen was assigned to kitchen duty, not a job she particularly liked or hated. It was just something for her to do while she waited for Doug to get back with the rest of the team.

There was something comforting in the monotony of cutting and mixing that calmed her nerves. Doug was out there without her for the first time since he’d become a veritable shut-in—she had no control over what was happening to him and couldn’t intervene with her tried and tested fixes if his brain and body froze on him. The thought worried her more than she let on, even to herself. She loved the man dearly, but there were more times than she cared to admit where he’d put their lives in serious danger.

“Oh shit!” Carmen exclaimed as she spilled a full bottle of vinegar into the bean salad she was preparing. Her mind elsewhere, she’d just let the vessel empty completely into the large mixing bowl. Hoping the salad wasn’t ruined, she strained out the beans as best she could and wondered if the vinegar was worth saving…

“We’ve all done that,” a voice said quietly from behind her.

Carmen turned her to head to look at Virginia, another woman helping in the kitchens that day. “Done what?”

“Gotten so far away we forgot what we were doing,” she answered. “I dumped a whole jar of cinnamon into a batch of pancakes about three weeks ago while I was lost in my own thoughts.”

Carmen stared at her, unsure of why she was being told the story. “What happened to the pancakes?”

“I scooped out what I could and cooked them. Not much else to do.” The woman smiled as she stirred a spoon around the inside of the bowl in front of her. “If anyone complained, I didn’t hear it.”

Carmen and Virginia laughed conspiratorially, stopping only when Sister Mary Francis came into the room.

“Carmen, the team was spotted coming up the road. I thought you might like to be there when Doug gets in.”

“Thank Sister! Is it okay that I leave this and go?”

Virginia answered, “You go and I’ll worry about the bean salad.”

Carmen turned to smile at the woman and said, “Thank you so much! I really appreciate it,” before taking off to the nave upstairs. As she rounded the last corner, she saw the men making their way into the room, but there were only two of them.

And neither of them was Doug.

“What happened? Where’s Doug?” Carmen screamed while rushing up to the men.

 All rights reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow

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