In her grief over the murder of her husband Vincent, Deborah Demarco made crustless quiches for two weeks, one each day. They were the only thing she could cook, the only thing she had ever learned to cook, thanks to two wet and cold weeks in a cabin in the woods when she was a child, which should have been an adventuresome summer holiday swimming, canoeing, and exploring. In the gloom of shelter from a storm, in a musty cabin that smelled of charcoal, her mother taught her the only recipe she remembered without notes: salmon quiche.
It was crustless because you didn’t pour the egg mixture into a pastry crust, but added some Bisquik to the mix instead. The Bisquik didn’t exactly settle and make a crust, but seemed to help keep the whole thing cohesive.
She was staying with her mother for awhile after Vincent was shot, and her mother indulged her and they ate salmon quiche every second day. The other quiches went to her brother, Victor, and she took two to the mill.
That was the other way she coped, or tried to. On Fridays, Deborah took a quiche to the employees club at the mill, where the boys drank their beer at the end of the work week. She arrived, in jeans and one of Vincent’s sweaters, the grey one. She put on mascara, and some eyeliner, just like she did when she went to pick up Vincent, back when he was alive.
The boys stared at her as if she was a ghost, and the other girls there to pick up their men from the mill instinctively surrounded her in a kind of protective circle, cooing like mourning doves. Billy and Wayne, who were pals of Vincent and who had come to her little house and eaten hamburgers fresh off the grill, slathered in Vincent’s special sauce of ketchup, mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce, always hugged her in a carefully fraternal way. She didn’t really know the others, not Jason or that odd one, Leep, who told her the salmon quiche was the best and could he have the recipe? She realized she didn’t really know any of them, yet she couldn’t stay away.
Maybe because Vince had loved it when she went to the mill on Fridays. He loved the mascara and the eyeliner and the way the other guys looked at her, he said, and when they got home they made love the way she liked it, in the bed, a little rough, a little kinky.
There was a terrible pain, like knives trying to escape from her gut, every time she left the mill alone, and went home to her mother’s house alone. The pain was a relief from the numbness. Her mother was suspicious of her silence and kept telling her to let it all out. So on Fridays, she went to the mill and then to her mother’s house and let some of it out.
Deborah could only think and wonder, in a kind of curious despair, about the fact that only two weeks ago, she returned from the mill with her husband Vince, and he tied her to the bed. Now she returned from the mill alone, and pretended to cry in the arms of her mother.