—Coming April 10, 2018
What’s it about?
Go Ask Fannie is about 3 siblings coming back to their father’s farmhouse for an extended weekend, all with conflicting agendas, all of which get derailed when the youngest sibling, Lizzie, sends her ex-boyfriend to the emergency room with a burned hand for his role in ruining an incredibly meaningful family treasure – their long-dead mother’s heavily annotated copy of the Fannie Farmer cookbook. With Lizzie now facing possible criminal charges, suddenly the weekend is off to a bad start. Why is the cookbook so important? And what clues does it give the children to a mother none of them really ever knew?
This is not the first time the Blaire family has been thrown into chaos. In fact, that cookbook, an old edition of Fannie Farmer, is the last remaining artifact from a time when they were a family of six, not four, with a father running for Congress and a mother building a private life of her own. The now-obscured notes written in its pages provide tantalizing clues to their mother's ambitions and the mysterious choices she once made, choices her children have always sought without success to understand. Until this weekend.
As the Blaire siblings piece together their mother's story, they come to realize not just what they've lost, but how they can find their way back to each other. In this way, celebrated author Elisabeth Hyde reminds readers that family survival isn't about simply setting aside old rivalries, but preserving the love that's written between the lines
WHAT INSPIRED ME TO WRITE GO ASK FANNIE?
A cookbook! I was visiting my 97-year-old father, who lives alone in northern New Hampshire, and came across an old, stained, dog-eared edition of Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cookbook, which my mother relied on for everything. And I got to wondering, what if a woman used her cookbook as a journal of sorts, annotating it not with notes like “add more cheese,” but with ideas for stories, essays, poems, etc.? What would her children make of these notes, years later? What light would they shed on their mother’s hopes and dreams amidst the drudgery of housework?
Also, after setting previous novels in the Grand Canyon, Boulder, and Seattle, I felt compelled to write a book set in northern New Hampshire. Although I’ve lived in the west for over 40 years, and love it here and would never want to leave, I still feel this deeply rooted connection with the Granite State – particularly the White Mountains, home to some of the worst weather in the lower 48! (Wind chill of 90 below zero on Mount Washington? It just happened.) I shouldn’t stereotype, but I identify with the taciturn, steadfast New Englander; like Murray in the novel, I’m very good at avoiding face-to-face conflict, which is why I didn’t make a very good lawyer. I much prefer my conflicts to come out on the page.
more Critical Acclaim…
“Wonderful characters, a gorgeous sense of time and place, and elegant storytelling make Go Ask Fannie an utter delight. The members of this loving, raging, totally compelling family may not like one another all the time, but I adored them all from the first page. Elisabeth Hyde has written a funny, joyous novel, heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once and in the very best ways.”
—Laurie Frankel, author of This Is How It Always Is
“A book full of huge-hearted mistake makers that you’ll want to call your own—Go Ask Fannie is a rousing reminder that the only way to truly forgive another person is to first forgive yourself.”
—Courtney Maum, author of Touch
IF I GIVE HER ENOUGH ROPE, SHE’LL HANG HERSELF, HE THOUGHT.
George Blaire didn’t consider himself a mean person, but put him in a car with his older sister, Ruth, and instantly he felt like he was thirteen again and plotting schemes to trip her up. This was because Ruth was perpetually blind to her bossy, snobbish nature, and George enjoyed nothing more than catching her unawares. Is there a reason you don’t eat iceberg lettuce, Ruth? You think I should use how much salt, Ruth?
True, he could go overboard. As a nurse in the intensive care unit at a midsized hospital, he dealt with a fair amount of stress, and one day, after he’d not only witnessed a thirty‐five‐year‐old woman die of sepsis but been assaulted by her husband for not having done enough to save her life—after that very long day, he happened to have a snappy phone conversation with Ruth in which he teased her about getting a facial every week. And Ruth, traumatized by acne as a teenager, first went silent and then said, “Really, George?” in a shaky, tearful voice, which made George ask himself what particular neural defect would cause a younger brother to value the callous taunt over some heartfelt empathy.
Such was their dynamic, however. And so as they drove north from the Manchester airport on Friday night, with dusk softening the sky and thickening the stands of pine along the highway, he merely had to ask what she wanted to do over the weekend, and Ruth began outlining her plans, using the words “first,” “second,” and “third,” which prompted him to wonder aloud whether those were bullet points, capital letters, or Roman numerals. Oh, that got her goat.
And just past Concord, with its steepled skyline and golden dome, all he had to do was tease her about the amount of money she spent grooming her thirteen‐year‐old golden retriever, and she was suddenly declaring that the grooming bills were nothing compared to the doggie acupuncture. “It was Morgan’s idea,” she protested, once George had stopped choking on his coffee.
But the best moment came as they were heading up the long driveway to the old red farmhouse where their father lived, just north of Franconia Notch, and he reminded her that arriving with a preset agenda for the weekend was not going to make their father very happy.
“Well, George,” she remarked, reapplying lipstick using the little mirror on the visor, “my primary purpose in life is not to make people happy.”
The bald admission hovered like a snarl of gnats, and George didn’t have to say anything at all to make his point: even Ruth herself lapsed into silence, unnerved by her own bitchiness.
WHAT BOTHERED RUTH was that here was her brother, an ICU nurse with presumably a fair amount of compassion, yes? affirmatively trying to point out all the ways her life was different from his. Big fat Washington, DC, versus little old New Hampshire. High income versus meh. Hillary versus Bernie. Did he really have to make her feel so stupid when she talked about taking an Uber back to the airport on Monday? (“Not really Uber country, Ruth,” he’d chuckled.) Did he have to make her feel so guilty about the chef she and Morgan had recently hired to handle dinners during the hectic weeknights when the boys had soccer, music lessons, and homework, and needed something other than a clam box of sushi at eight p.m.? Stop treating me like your neurotic older sister, she wanted to say to him. Start treating me like a human.
But if she said that, he would call her out on being bossy again, and she would be made to feel bad, bad, and really, really bad.
It didn’t help that her day had gone poorly from the start. First Caleb got a bloody nose at the breakfast table and had to be convinced that no, it was not cancer, and yes, the stain would come out of his new Abercrombie sweatshirt. Then on the way out to the car, Kyle dropped his shoebox diorama of Machu Picchu, and all the little Incans toppled off the carefully molded Andean mountaintop. She got into her office to find an unanticipated stack of civil investigative demands from the Justice Department, and very unmindfully ate two glazed donuts for lunch, so that by the time she left for the airport, she was having to mainline a protein drink, which took care of her dizziness but had the effect of making her somewhat aggressive, so that when a barrel‐chested man cut in front of her while going through security, she calmly asked if he’d been born an asshole or just recently become one. Then she cut in front of him, which due to his protests drew the attention of security, who pulled her aside and subjected her to a wand‐down while the asshole breezed on through. Finally, as if this weren’t bad enough, upon boarding she discovered that not only was he on her flight, he was sitting right in front of her, which allowed him to tip his seat back into her personal space, preventing her from opening her laptop, which prompted her to jostle, push, and tug at his seat any chance she could, forcing him to speak to the flight attendant, and when Ruth heard herself protest “But he started it,” she knew she had reached one of the lower moments of her adult life.
And now with George on her case for feeding the boys too much sushi? She had a lot to accomplish this weekend, and it wasn’t going to help if George was going to direct his energy toward making her feel bad, bad, and really, really bad, all weekend long.
LIZZIE, THE YOUNGEST, felt like she was going to explode.
Bless her father, but he’d taken to calling her over every little thing these days. I can’t find the salad spinner. The remote isn’t working. I forgot my password. Because she lived just twenty minutes away—as opposed to George, an hour away down in Concord, and Ruth, three hours by plane in Washington, DC—it all fell upon her. Didn’t he realize she had a life? That she had papers to read, recommendation letters to write, and hiring‐committee work to tend to? She truly loved her weekly visits, and she truly loved cooking him a big pot of soup with plenty of leftovers, but she couldn’t help but think sometimes that his constant requests reflected an assumption that her work as a fully tenured professor of literature at a nearby college wasn’t quite as important as that of her siblings.
Although to be fair, maybe she was just hypersensitive these days. Physically, she was still a bit off, she reminded herself. That accounted for a lot. But with everyone convening at her father’s house for the weekend—Ruth with a suitcase full of to‐dos, George wanting to show off the photos of his latest marathon—she feared simply being overwhelmed by the busyness of it all. Ruth would call family meetings, George would push people to go for a run with him, and her father would probably decide to take advantage of all three of them being around to help move the behemoth buffet out of the dining room and into the shed so he could sand it down and restain it before posting it on Craigslist.
The flip side of her proximity was that it would give her an out during the weekend. Twenty minutes and she could be back at her very modest, asbestos‐sided home, with space and time to herself. She’d agreed to feed the neighbor’s cats for the next two days, and she had a rash of papers to grade, plus a mound of applicants’ resumés to wade through for a position that had opened up at her college. Not that she wanted to avoid her family, but she sensed that it would be a weekend of mild friction, with everybody wedded to their own agendas.
An idea came to her then: maybe the best way to avoid all that potential strife would be to go through family photos. Or letters. Something not too overwhelming—like their mother’s recipes, actually. Which reminded her to get the cookbook back from her ex‐boyfriend Gavin, who’d been holding on to it for the last four months. Because without something calming for them to focus on, she just felt like she was going to lose it.
AND EIGHTY-ONE-YEAR-OLD MURRAY BLAIRE—a retired attorney, a state legislator, a two‐day congressman‐elect, and now an amateur farmer—anticipated the arrival of his three children that Friday night in mid‐September and hoped for the best. He had some serious matters to discuss this weekend, and he wanted things to run smoothly. But harmony, that Artful Dodger in so many families, had its way of eluding his family as well, and after cleaning up the stacks of unread magazines, the piles of newspapers; after vacuuming the dust kitties from under the guest beds and scrubbing out the pan he’d burned last night and putting away the shellac and the turpentine and, finally, changing into unstained clothes, he steeled himself by knocking back a double gin and tonic before they arrived. Then he brushed his teeth, gargled, combed his hair, and sat down at the kitchen table to wait as gravity drew his children back into his orbit for the next three days.
“COME IN, COME IN,” MURRAY EXCLAIMED, OPENING THE kitchen door wide. He glanced at his watch. “You made excellent time! How was the traffic? Ruth, is that all you brought?”
Ruth propped her large floppy tote against her carry‐on bag and kissed her father hello. “I always travel light, Dad, you know that.” She looked around. “Where’s Lizzie?”
“She called and said she’ll be down tomorrow morning,” Murray replied. “Something about wanting to get some papers graded tonight. George”—and he clasped his son’s arm—“thanks for doing airport duty.”
“Nice sweater, Dad,” said Ruth. “Is it new?”
Murray glanced down, as though he’d forgotten what he was wearing. “This? No, just dug it out of the back of the closet. Mothballs and all.”
“Well, you look good in red, Dad,” said Ruth.
Murray beamed. It pleased him when Ruth took note of his grooming efforts, not because he was out to impress her, but because he knew Ruth had a tendency to keep tabs on how well he was taking care of himself. This would give him a nice bold check in the “Keeps Up Appearances” column.
“I have dinner all ready,” he told them. On the stove was a pot of chili, along with a pan of cornbread made from a mix Ruth had brought him from Santa Fe, probably years ago. He’d prepared a salad as well—though that, too, had been easy, coming pre-washed in a bag so all he did was dump it in a bowl. “We can eat any time.”
“Let me check in with Morgan first,” said Ruth, taking out her phone.
“You already checked in with him,” George said. “Three times in the car already.”
“I want him to know we arrived,” Ruth said, and her index finger skittered across the screen. Murray looked on, somewhat appalled: What color was her nail polish, exactly? Bluegreen? In a law firm? It looked vampirish to Murray.
Ruth, having sent her text, placed her phone on the table. “Okay, now I’ll take a glass of wine.”
“Wow, fancy stuff,” George observed, as Murray got a bottle of white wine from the refrigerator.
“Is this the right one?” Murray asked Ruth, showing her the bottle.
“Wait—you told him to get you that wine?” George said. “Seriously?”
“Zip it, George,” said Ruth.
George took the bottle from Murray’s hand before he could uncork it. He eyed the label. “How much did this cost?”
“I said drop it, George,” Ruth warned.
“Nothing wrong with splurging every once in a while,” Murray said lamely—wishing George would, in fact, drop the issue. The wine had actually cost over twenty dollars at the state liquor store, far more than what Murray might have spent on a bottle for himself, but Ruth had been specific and he didn’t want her to be disappointed. He’d only bought one bottle, anyway. It wasn’t like he was going to keep her supplied all weekend long. “Do you want some, George?”
“No, I’ll just take a Bud,” quipped George, emphasizing the commonman’s brand, which Murray thought was an unnecessary dig, since George knew that Murray always kept a few craft beers in the refrigerator for his son.
But if it was a dig, Ruth did not snap back, and they sat down to Murray’s dinner and for the rest of the evening they made light, frivolous, for the most part happy conversation: George telling them about his knee injury; Ruth filling them in on the soccer camps the boys had attended this summer, and the awards they’d received, and their week at the Delaware shore where Kyle forgot sunscreen one day and ended up with a blistering sunburn that Ruth still got choked up about, because now if he got skin cancer it would be her fault. Murray, for his part, just sat and listened. He wished Lizzie were here, too, but he had to admit, he was grateful for all this harmony. Ruth and George seemed to be making an effort.
If only the whole weekend could be just like this, he thought. Any ideas, Lillian? Would you scold, if things started heating up? Let them duke it out themselves? Or would you escape to your room upstairs and write about it?
As it would turn out, the next morning would find Murray wondering what toxic wind had blown in during the night, because when he came downstairs around eight, he found Ruth and George arguing at the breakfast table about who should inherit their grandfather’s army parka. Over toast they argued about the percentage by which Donald Trump was going to lose. (“Epic,” George predicted. Murray himself wasn’t so sure.) Over eggs, they fought about how to deal with Lizzie, who was posting unflattering childhood pictures of them all on Facebook.
By nine o’clock they’d moved on to finances; as Murray was making a second pot of coffee, Ruth was trying to convince George he should be putting more money into his retirement account, and George was getting prickly, Murray could tell, not just because he probably wasn’t putting enough aside, but because Ruth could be so bossy.
Squabblety-budgets, Lillian used to call them when they fought like this. Yackety-yacks. Their voices sounded like the Sunday morning news shows. Stop it! he wanted to shout. But then an idea occurred to him, so simple he wondered why he hadn’t thought of it before: he reached up and removed his hearing aid and slipped it into his pocket. And that was it; that was better. Without the device, his children’s voices receded and Murray felt happy. Let them argue for the time being. Slowly the coffee began to burble up in the old percolator and Murray felt happier still. He looked out the window.
It was a cloudless day, the blue peaks of the Franconia Range deeply shadowed from the low morning sun. Down the hill, just visible over the roof of his barn, lay a brilliant swash of yellow. Murray had put in two acres of sunflowers three years ago, almost as much an experiment in color as an agricultural endeavor. The flowers grew chest‐high, as big as dinner plates, drooping heavily at this time of year from the weight of their seeded centers. Standing in his field, under a cerulean sky and surrounded by a sea of gold, Murray Blaire felt like Van Gogh.
The coffee smelled good, rich, nutty. It occurred to him that he might have given the army parka to the thrift shop.
“I said Dad!” Ruth exclaimed.
“Don’t shout!” Murray snapped. (Oh, he hated getting snappy!) Ruth then said something that Murray couldn’t quite make out.
He wondered if he could slip his hearing aid back in without her noticing, now that she had zeroed in on him for something. Ruth had a way of noticing all the woulds, coulds, and shoulds he did or didn’t do, many of which had to do with the safety of living alone; she thought he should use his hearing aid all the time, for instance, though what that had to do with safety, Murray couldn’t say.
Yet wasn’t this tendency the reason he’d urged her to come up for a long weekend, to be honest? Because she also noticed those woulds and shoulds about everyone else, too, and she would notice them about Lizzie. More specifically, what Lizzie could and should be doing to get out of what Murray perceived to be a bad relationship.
For the past year and a half, Lizzie had been seeing an older man named Gavin Langley, technically married but separated from his wife. Originally from New York, he’d bought a place near Lizzie in the hamlet of Sugar Hill, a nineteenth‐century clapboard farmhouse that he’d gutted and remodeled with local stone and timber. Murray had visited the place once, when Gavin invited the locals to come and admire his renovations; this was before Murray knew that any kind of relationship existed with Lizzie, and he’d stood and nibbled cheddar cheese, wondering how soon he could extricate himself from the man’s ostentatious attempts to garner admiration under the guise of neighborly generosity. Eventually Murray learned of his daughter’s involvement with the man, but things had reached a point this past month where Murray suspected all was not well, for Lizzie’s moods had grown increasingly dark lately. Something was going on. And Murray, as her father, felt quite helpless to investigate.
“Dad, focus, please!” implored Ruth.
Fine. Ignoring his daughter’s watchful eye, Murray fitted his hearing aid back in, poured himself some coffee, and went to sit at the old drop‐leaf table with Ruth and George. Ruth was wearing baggy gray sweats, and she’d clipped her hair up in back so that it fell over on itself, like a rooster tail. George wore a black T‐shirt that read “¿l oN q M.”
“Now what’s this all about?” said Murray.
“Will you please tell George why he should be saving more for retirement?” Ruth said.
“Nope,” said Murray. “George is forty‐five. He knows about compound interest.”
“Forty‐four,” George pointed out.
“Where’s Lizzie with the coffee cake, anyway?” said Murray. “She should be here by now.” A shadow clouded his mind, as it always did when one of his kids didn’t arrive on time. Anything could happen. Look at Lillian. Look at Daniel. Contrary to popular belief, lightning could always strike twice.
“Do you actually think you can live on Social Security?” Ruth asked George.
“I have a pension, Ruth,” said George. “I am employed, you know.”
Murray checked his watch. “Darn that girl. Somebody call her.”
Both his children simultaneously reached for their phones. Murray got the feeling it was a race. Everything with his children was a competition, it seemed. “In the meantime, though, since I have you here, I want to talk about the situation.”
“Which situation?” asked Ruth.
“Dad doesn’t like Gavin,” George told her.
“Oh, that one. I don’t like Gavin either,” said Ruth. “He’s what,
twenty‐seven years older than she is, to begin with.”
Murray rubbed his chin. He’d forgotten to shave that morning, he just realized. No doubt Ruth had noticed.
“My fear is that he’s leading your sister on,” he said. “Cultivating
expectations. He’s not serious about her, that much I can sense, and I’m afraid she’s going to end up hurt.” Murray was old‐fashioned when it came to sex; he viewed women as more vulnerable than men, more likely to think that love was involved and apt to fall apart when things ended. He didn’t know the exact terms of the relationship in question here, but he did know Gavin was still married, at least on paper. And he thought Ruth, as an older sister, could help empower Lizzie to extricate herself.
“I want you to talk to her, Ruth.” “Not me?” asked George, hurt.
“I already talked to her once this summer,” said Ruth. “She didn’t want to listen.”
“Well, she definitely doesn’t want to listen to her old man,” Murray said. “You’re her sister. You’re a woman.”
“She’s actually closer to me,” George pointed out.
“Fine, you talk to her,” said Ruth.
“Stop it, the two of you,” said Murray, convinced his children
could find discord in a glass of milk. “This is my house. I hate it when you fight. Your mother would hate it, too. So stop it.”
“Speaking of which,” began Ruth.
“Uh‐oh,” said George, and Murray grunted. Speaking of which, they both knew, meant that Ruth was going to change the subject.
“I noticed a little mold in the bathroom, Dad. Behind the sink pedestal. Have you had the house tested for black mold?”
“I don’t have black mold,” said Murray. “I have blue mold.”
“You still have to take care of it. Get Sandra to wipe down the walls with some vinegar. Also there’s a huge wasp nest under the eaves.”
“I’ll take it down.”
“No. You’ll hire a professional. You’re allergic to bees, Dad.”
“Then I’ll spray it after dark.”
“Why won’t you just hire someone?” Ruth said.
“Is this why you came up here?” George asked her. “To tell him
what to do about all the things that are wrong with his house?” “Of course not. But at some point we’re going to need to talk about a whole different living situation for Dad, and this is just the start.”
“I keep a very clean house,” said Murray. “I throw out my newspapers. I take out my garbage. Do I have mice in the walls? Yes. Squirrels in the attic? Maybe a few. So what? A little blue mold isn’t going to kill me.” He nodded at Ruth’s cell phone. “Have you heard back from her?”
Ruth shook her head.
Murray sighed. Despite the coffee, he suddenly felt drowsy.
“I’m going to go lie down,” he said. “Wake me when she gets here.” He left the room and shuffled toward the stairs, trying to re‐
member his last bee sting. “You see?” he heard Ruth say. “How tired he gets? And it’s only quarter past nine.”
In the relative quiet of his room, Murray lay down on his bed, which he hadn’t yet made this morning: something else Ruth would notice. A few leaves on the maple tree outside his window had turned red, which reminded him that fall was upon him, which reminded him that winter was not far along, which made him sad. Winters had gotten so long at this point in his life.
Well, they were long because he couldn’t ski anymore because of back problems, he reminded himself. He no longer snowshoed because of balance issues. All he could do was sit inside and read when the north wind blew. If he went for a walk, he risked slipping. If he drove, he might skid. Sometimes he felt like a hermit, living alone and talking to himself just to exercise his vocal cords.
What Murray really wanted this year was to go to Mexico for the winter. To find a small fishing village untainted by tourists, a place where he could rent a little stucco house and learn the language and eat the local food and shop at the local market. He’d heard that the town of Zihuatanejo on the Pacific was such a place, but when he Googled it, he saw restaurants and beaches and plea‐ sure boats, and concluded that it would be too touristy for him. It would take some research to find the right place, but that was half the fun. He would leave in January, and return after mud season, in late April, so he could be there for the purple trilliums and the lady slippers, the turning over of the soil in his sunflower field, the things that made life worth living here in northern New England.
Murray kicked at his sheets so he wasn’t lying on wrinkles and lumps. He settled himself and folded his hands over his diaphragm and felt his breath begin to steady. He really was worried about Lizzie. He couldn’t say for sure that Gavin was responsible for this, but Lizzie had been acting differently lately. Jumpy and skittish, prone to talk about leaving her job and going off to live in India or Nepal for a year. She’d never spoken of those countries before and Murray took this to mean that they were places Gavin had tossed around. Oh, Lizzie, he’s just playing with you, can’t you see that? Dump the guy, before he dumps you.
Right now it was Lizzie who was occupying his thoughts, but that didn’t mean Murray didn’t worry about his other children as well. Ruth was a lawyer for a large firm, and he worried that she worked too hard. Sixty, seventy hours a week, she’d once told him. Her husband, Morgan, was also an attorney, but for some reason he managed to get home every day by six thirty, something Murray frequently pointed out to Ruth. “If Morgan can manage it, why can’t you?”
She never had a good answer for him.
As for George—George had chosen nursing, a profession that provided clearly defined hours, a day job that gave him time to run the marathons he was continually training for. George, who’d always had a voracious appetite, had ballooned up in his twenties, and originally took up running to lose weight. Now, at a lean and sinewy 160, he was running up to six marathons a year. Nothing wrong with that. But George worked in intensive care, and Murray worried that he was around death too much. Several times a week his son had to pull the sheet up over yet another body, which had to be wearing, and George was a sensitive boy. Plenty to worry about there, too.
Still, Lizzie was the one he worried about the most. She’d always been an impetuous child, prone to outbursts and melodrama. He recalled her decision at age six to scalp her Barbie, how mad she’d been when she realized the hair wouldn’t grow back. At the age of ten she told a teacher to go suck a dick. In college she ran off to Mexico for a winter, and now here she was talking about quitting a tenured position and going off to live in the Himalayas!
At times like this Murray wished Lillian were around, to read some calm sense into Lizzie’s brain. His eyes fell upon the photograph of his wife on his bureau. Framed in brass, it showed a thirty‐five‐ year‐old Lillian in a wicker chair, wearing a pale yellow sleeveless dress, looking sultry with a cigarette between her long, elegant fingers. How much Lizzie resembled her these days, Murray thought. Lizzie’s hair was brown and wavy instead of ash blond and straight like Lillian’s, but she had the same blue eyes, the same thin lips that curled up at the edges, even when mad. He wished Lillian were here to help Lizzie see the folly of her ways. Lillian had always gotten the kids to listen, it seemed to him. But Lillian had been gone now for thirty‐two years, so it was up to Ruth.
Murray was planning just how he could ensure that his two daugh‐ ters could have some private time and space during the weekend, when he heard a car pull up outside. Finally, Lizzie was here. Hastily he climbed out of bed and drew up the covers. (It was a matter of pride for him; unmade beds spoke of illness, of an old man who’d given up. Next thing you knew, the house would smell like piss, and Ruth would be the first to notice that, too.)
Down in the kitchen he looked out the window and saw a bedraggled‐looking Lizzie climbing out of her car with a bakery box in one hand and a six‐pack in the other. She was wearing a pair of flowing, balloon‐like pants that Murray did not find flattering.
“A little early for beer, isn’t it?” he asked, opening the kitchen door for her.
“Depends on how you look at things,” Lizzie said, pushing her way in.
“How come you’re late?” George asked. “We’re starving.” Lizzie set the bakery box on the table and opened a beer. “Jeez,” said Ruth. “At ten thirty?”
“I had a very rough morning,” Lizzie said. “Don’t ‘jeez’ me.” “What, was some student upset over a grade?” asked George.
“No,” said Lizzie. “I had a big fight with Gavin.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” said Murray, thinking: Oh joy.
“How big?” asked Ruth.
“Oh, pretty big.”
“As in what, you broke up?”
“As in, I sent him to the ER,” said Lizzie.