Unsettling the Dust

We try dinner by candlelight.
Blindly I reach up

Feeling the space—please god let that be dust—until my fingers scrape the skeletal chill of the Candelabra.
A family heirloom, his mother said.
She forgot to remove the tag. 19.99 at Kohl’s. I kept it as a memento.
Your mom is full of shit, did you know?
He didn’t.
The candles are harder to find, the wax built up over the wick.
Blindly I scrape it down, dancing around George.
“Did you want to help with dinner,” he muses absently.
He knows I don’t. I don’t reply.
I can’t see the forks, but if I could I wouldn’t know which side of the plate to place them.
They are similar, so similar. Disturbing in their uniformity.
“Don’t forget your salad,” George murmurs, scraping it onto the plate.
“Should they touch? Isn’t there a separate plate for this? Isn’t there protocol for this kind of thing?“
He stares away from me.
“Don’t you wonder whose idea it was to place those white chunks of iceberg in there? Who eats that? Nobody even eats that!”
George eats it, now.
The roast is burnt.
He has removed the wine from the dinner table. From the kitchen and from the table.
My throat feels dry in its absence.
We contemplate prayer but I can’t remember the words.
Neither can he.
We fill the space awkwardly with words we won’t remember.
I open my mouth to speak—something profound, I’m certain.
And the candle blows out.
And the lights come back on.
Perhaps our words were a prayer?
We nod stiffly at each other, gathering our plates silently.
Moving from the table to the living room. Our legs touch.
He relaxes.
I relax.
Later I replace the candelabra, careful not to unsettle the dust.

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