“What are you going to do today, sweetheart?” my grandfather inquires as I take a seat at the table next to him and start spinning the Lazy Susan. Filled with spices, sugar, sauces and spoons—why is it called a Lazy Susan? “I don’t have any concrete plans,” I say as the balanced disc moves with the slight touch of my fingers.
“Did you want something to eat?” my grandmother asks. She thinks I’m too skinny. Probably because she is fat. She bustles about the kitchen in her flower patterned apron between her two ovens. Why she needs two I do not know. There are three people living and eating here. No need for two.
“Did you hear what I said, dear?” I look up to see her staring at me like I was infected with a social disease. Like I was not quite all there. Concern mixed with pity. Like the way she looked at my mother. “No thanks, Grandma.”
She starts muttering something in German. Grandpa looks up and says something in reply. Something like ‘Leave her the hell alone’ I imagine. Or ‘What are we having for supper tonight’.
“Syd, roll your window down a couple inches.” Sydney obeyed her mother and shut the passenger door of the car, squinting up into the bright gleam of the unnatural cross perched on the spire. Jesus didn’t die on a titanium cross. He died on some criminal-fit wooden posts. For our sins. Thank God.
Stop touching your stomach, she reminded herself as she followed her mom and brother up the cement steps to the tall oak doors of the church. An old man pressed his thin lips together and crinkled the corners of his eyes in greeting as he slowly hauled open the door for Sydney, but his welcoming expression went unanswered as she sailed by him into the foyer with her eyes down and her knuckles tangled together in front of her ribs. She wondered if the other church members bustling around the green carpeted lobby noticed her gliding around on tiptoes. She wondered what each whisperer guessed to the next about why Sydney Benton seemed slightly strange this morning. She wondered if they could detect, with each step, the weight of something that didn’t even breathe yet roosting impatiently just behind her navel.
She slid into a pew next to Ellie.
“Hey,” Ellie yawned.
When would Sydney have to tell her friends about her drive downtown last night? How she almost went to the Walgreens in Obispo Plaza but had panic attack about seeing Jen’s mom there again? When would she confess that the old man at the CVS had looked at her with such disappointment that she started crying? Like it was her own grandfather or something. The pew was particularly hard this morning.