“Delicious!” Sam put down his sharp knife and his fork and winked at Lisa across the table.
Bobby’s mom fussed a little, not quite able to accept this praise without a few disclaimers. It’s the butcher, it’s my sister’s recipe, it did turn out good -this time. She was still standing, next to her place closest to the kitchen door, looking over the table.
“Sit,” said Bobby’s dad at the other end. “Or we’ll eat without you.” The oval dining table was white and gold, like everything in the dining room. (Versailles Bobby had said the first time Lisa saw the room. In a matchbox. It embarrassed him but Sam and Lisa both liked the warmth, the sparkling little chandelier over the table, the filigreed gold sconces on the walls.)
Sam had one side of the table to himself, his broad shoulders and long arms already almost too much for the little room, his legs stretched out, his feet resting between Bobby and Lisa’s on the side they shared. He went on praising the meal, apparently tickled somehow to be performing the part of enthusiastic young man. Every time Bobby’s mom demurred, he gently chided her.
It took Lisa several bites of brisket and a mouthful of potatoes to get that he was flirting. He was flirting with Bobby’s mom. And look how happy it was making her. This is what Sam did, this kind of happiness, this generous affection. Lisa felt her heart expand; she loved him and she wanted to be his, to be included, tucked under his arm, close to him, joined and acknowledged. His girlfriend, part of his life, with him. She wanted it so much, her throat ached and it was hard to swallow even the soft potatoes.
Bobby’s mom sat and raised her glass of water in a toast, her small round face shiny in the overhead light.