The potatoes hit Hunter on the neck, cheek and nose, uncorking a six-year-old wail of assault that bored through bone and tissue. With her arm still falling forward through her throwing motion, Amanda yapped a shrill laugh at causing her brother such loud misery.
Every customer in the restaurant turned and looked in their direction.
“Stop it!” Gershon hissed, slapping Amanda’s hand and leaning over to soothe Hunter’s cries. “What are you thinking?”
“You said pass the potatoes.” Amanda shrugged, her face changing instantly from the vengeful sneer of an older sister to a recalcitrant nine-year-old appealing for pity and an immediate reprieve.
A fistful of Hunter’s string beans landed in Amanda’s hair.
“Stop that!” Gershon shook her son’s hand. He was already laughing.
That was when it happened, when Gershon was suddenly, unexpectedly and everso-swiftly taken back to another time in her life, even if it was just mentally.
“Here, madam,” the waiter whispered, removing a string bean from Gershon’s shoulder. As he removed the vegetable, his hand brushed her neck. That was it. He merely brushed her neck in a way that meant nothing to him, who was focused only on saving a good gratuity. But within Gershon the long-forgotten feeling of any man other her husband touching her skin set off a supernova of emotion within limb and loin that blasted her mentally back in time to when Brad touched her.
She remembered how Brad’s hand felt.
She remembered what Brad said.
She remembered Brad.
While the waiter moved onto to help another patrons, and cooks cooked other meals and other servers served other patrons, and while sympathetic parents returned their gaze from the squabble at Gershon’s table to chiding their own children, Gershon mentally faded from the room, drifting back over the years, remembering how stunning she looked and vibrant felt when she was still in her twenties, when Brad stroked her neck the way her husband never could, when Brad who promised her a mental recess for the rest of her life, when Brad who offered her thrills she couldn’t repeat, secrets she couldn’t share and who changed her life more than the lawyer she had lain in bed with every night for more than a decade.
Brad said that she would never forget him.
“Amanda, sweetie, put the green bean back on your plate,” Eli said. “Honey,” Eli turned to his wife, signs of embarrassment creeping across his bland face. “What’s wrong? You zoning out?”
Gershon blinked and shook her head side to side.
“Listen to your father,” Gershon said absently. “Now eat nice.”
After dinner the parents and their two prized possessions – Amanda and Hunter – climbed up into Gershon’s SUV that was much too big for her to drive, but wasn’t large enough to contain all of mobile toys for Amanda and Hunter
As the SUV’s interior light faded, Gershon saw her reflection in the rearview mirror and she noticed them instantly, they stood out like flashlights on a pasture at night …