Allison saw the meeting between Leo, Franny, and Precious from her vantage point of raking leaves in her front yard. The sight of the three of them, looking for all the world like a family, set off a pang deep in Allison’s solar plexus.
She was not in love with Leo. That had been made clear to her the first week he’d moved in to the basement apartment in her new old house. The apartment didn’t have a real kitchen, just a hot plate and a mini fridge, so Allison had invited him to share breakfast with her that first Saturday. Leo offered to cook, and Allison gratefully said yes.
Having a man in her house early in the morning, cooking in her kitchen, created a frisson of romantic thrill for Allison, who had never shared her residence with a boyfriend. The smells being created there, of bread frying in egg batter, cinnamon, and butter, washed over Allison. They brought memories of her mom’s french toast, and longing for something she could not put her finger on.
Watching Leo cook, which meant watching a kind of tornado in the kitchen, as drops of batter splattered, bits of cinnamon flew, bread wrappers migrated into the sink, and egg cartons proliferated, filled with cracked and empty eggshells, Allison recognized with growing certainty that she wanted to create a family.
But not with Leo. It wasn’t the mess. It was more like a sign from the universe, as in an old Monty Python cartoon, a finger pointing down from heaven and a voice saying: yes, you want this, but not him. He’s not your future. He’s so important to your present, but he’s not your future.
He’s not the man for me, Allison thought, and that would make a great country western tune.
The french toast was delicious, Leo stayed to clean up the kitchen, and Allison relaxed in the knowledge that her future was a bit clearer than it had been before.
On this autumn morning, raking leaves and watching Leo crouch to pet Precious, as Franny looked on, Allison felt another part of the future clicking into place.