Terrible weather keeps Franny away from Pine Street for the Thanksgiving holiday, and prevents Leo from leaving. Winter storms make the skies over most of the western part of the country unnavigable. Driving is not much better, so they settle for a long and loving phone conversation, comparing feasts. Franny’s aunt is a good cook, preparing simple, delicious dishes for their small gathering (aunt, Franny, a neighbor with nowhere else to go, and the neighbor’s tiny elderly dog). Leo joins Allison, as he often has, keeping her company as she waits to see if Emil will arrive or if weather will keep him away, too.
“Allison is making three pies,” Leo says. “Pumpkin, pecan, and apple.”
“Why so many?” Franny asks.
“Who cares?” Leo laughs. “I’ll have pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
“Make sure you do the clean up, Leo.”
“Of course. It’s easy, since we got that dishwasher installed. Can you imagine, someone was giving that away?” He’s talking about the fancy dishwasher Allison found at the local Habitat for Humanity store. Leo has never understood the urge to remodel, only for remodeling’s sake, and he cannot abide waste.
“Are you going to do the gratitude thing?” Franny asks, gracefully changing the subject. “You know, sit around the table, say something you’re grateful for?”
“I hope not,” Leo answers. “I hate those things. Gratitude on demand. Doesn’t seem real to me.”
“Sometimes people need a reminder, that’s all. They need a reminder to pause and reflect. Modern life throws a lot of barriers in the way.”
“I don’t need a reminder. I’m grateful for everything: for waking up today, for my health, for the birds singing and the leaves changing color. I’m grateful to have a friend who bakes three pies for Thanksgiving. And I’m grateful for you. I love you, Franny.”
Leo knows she struggles to respond seriously to his declarations of love, usually offering a joke or ignoring them completely. So he does not expect her next statement.
“I love you too, Leo. I wish you were here, with me. As soon as the weather clears up, come down, okay?”
Leo’s heart leaps, and yet, he realizes, as much as he loves the invitation, he is not sure he wants to go.