Wind grazed the corners of the house with a klaxon sound, and dark came early. By the time the turkey was done, it was nearly 7:00. She surveyed the masses of food on kitchen table, stove, counters, even chairs. There was so much to clear away before she could set the table, and she was tired, sweaty. So, she went in the bathroom pulling off clothes as she went. Running the bath, she thought of the big old fashioned muslin towels from her grandmother's house in Kansas. They were on the top shelf in the tiny linen closet in the hall.
Getting out of the tub after a long soak, she reached for a towel. It was one they'd filched from the Ritz a few summers before, and wrapped herself in it. She liked how it swathed her. It didn't just dry; it drank off the droplets. She went out in the kitchen, wrapped in an old flannel dressing gown of her mother's, and took down the big plates from the shelf. She went in the other room to get out the old towels, and brought them into the bedroom. He looked up, and smiled as she tossed them over. Here, cover the sheets and duvet with these.
She went back in the kitchen and dished up braised potatoes and dill, turnips, cauliflower puffs, olives from a large jar. She hacked off hunks of light and dark meat, and spooned mushroom bechamel over the pieces. Then she gathered up napkins and spoons, and carried them into the other room. She handed him a plate of food, and set hers on the crate at the side. She went and got a bottle of merlot and two water glasses. A dark cloud covered the sun and the room was in shadow, so she lit a fat yellow candle. The scent of beeswax filled her nostrils on the way back to the kitchen for a corkscrew.
She climbed in with him, handed him the bottle. He knelt and drew out the cork, poured both glasses to half. They saluted each other and sipped. He lit another candle and turned on a reading lamp. An album of adagios played in the other room, and sleet began to ring in the gutters. She tore off a slice of turkey dripping with sauce, chewed it, then sucked each finger. The red of the wine glinted in golden light and he reached across her to click off the floor lamp. They ate with fingers slippery with juice, lips purpled and rough from merlot.
He moaned with a mouthful of glossy brussel sprouts , and chewed his way to the end of a carrot slick with oil. He kissed her buttery mouth as she chewed. The tender white breast was just right. Turnips glossed in candlelight, and velvety mushroom veloute went down easily. Both hands full, she murmured through a mouthful of potato that she wished he would get the drizzle of sauce that'd slid down her shoulder. He licked it off, and poured more wine in her glass. She wiped a smear of butter off his adams apple, kissing his neck to make sure. He shuddered into the heap of pillows at his back.
The sauce was so good she licked the remains off her plate, and leaned over for more wine. When she sat back his plate tipped, and sauce went everywhere. Luckily, the muslin towels were big enough to wipe off her thighs and forearms as well as cover the bed. He chuckled and tied one around her neck like a bib. she scooped up three fingersful of mashed turnip and slung it at him. He retaliated with a slice of thigh meat slipped inside her robe when she wasn't looking. She yelped and picked up the bottle of wine, swigging right from the neck. He pulled her to him and shared a morsel of mushroom sauce-drenched potato, mouth to mouth. She giggled and swallowed, then slid out of bed to get more.
Later on, the night sky cleared and frost formed on the steamed-up windows as they ate and giggled their way through the food. Sated at last, she slumped into rumpled pillows and dozed. He picked bits of food out of folds of muslin, and piled the plates on the floor on his side. Then he cleaned off her face and neck and arms with a sock, and they drifted off to sleep.
She woke in the small hours, sticky with gooey residue, thankful for darkness and plates, the whiff of waxy honey from candles burned all the way down, the tang of dusky wine in her mouth, all the days of her life in the low relief of a momentary private place.