The following is actually a piece from my novel. I haven’t edited this, according to the little Microsoft Word tag, since 2004, but when the prompt said a happy comfort meal-based memory, this is better than anything I could write today.
Roger’s key rattled in the lock.
“Tea!” she shouted joyously.
“What, we need them for tea?” I asked sarcastically. “If you were hungry, dear — and when are you and Nathan not — you could have just said.”
“It’s not the hunger,” she said, sauntering to the front door of 1540, “it’s the company.”
Roger and Nathan came in with John and Ronnie right behind them. Kevin was parking on the corner.
“John said we get a holiday,” Nathan announced.
“John said we needed a holiday,” John corrected, kissing me on the forehead. “How’s JoJo?”
“I didn’t get a kiss on my concussed head,” Roger said.
Ronnie reached up, took his head in both her hands to bend him to her, and kissed his cut.
“Ouch,” he said.
“Ouch my ass,” she said. “How long are you going to play this for sympathy?”
“As long as you will dispense kisses.” He put an arm round Patricia’s waist. “How about it?”
“No,” she said, and slid from him to her husband, who enfolded her tightly in his long arms.
“Party!” Mary exclaimed as she came though the door and caught all the kissing and hugging. She had a tray of cakes covered in plastic film and a bright smile. And Kevin, who had brought the cream. Beaming at the world from behind his sunglasses.
I shooed them all into the dining room so I could maneuver (I hate when they decide to congregate in the kitchen!) and set the kettle on. Roger was getting cups and saucers from the cupboard and Patti was getting the spoons from the chest. Mary twirled like a waitress with her tray of cakes held slightly aloft, and John had squeezed into his seat and was watching us all. One of the advantages to having the worst seat in the dining room is that you don’t have to help with the setting-up.
Kevin was at the kitchen counter putting the cream into my china jug and having difficulty because he hadn’t yet taken off his sunglasses. I yanked them from his hand — no one treats my Royal Doulton like that, not even the Kevin Petterson — and set the cream, sugar and serviettes on a tray, placed it in his hands, and piloted him to the dining room. Ronnie was standing at the other end of the kitchen counter eating a wedge of orange from Mary’s bakery tray.
“You’re not supposed to eat the garnish,” I said.
“Mary wouldn’t let me have a cake,” she said. “How are you doing, JoJo?”
“Pretty well,” I said. “Press has been noisy.”
“They want my husband’s head on a platter,” she said. “Roy is not happy. Ron is not happy. That tour manager from Japan is not happy.”
“King Herod is not happy.”
She smirked. “Bring me the head of John the Bassist.”
Mary danced in like Salome to toss the plastic wrap from the tray into the wastebin.
“We’ll be all right,” I said.
“Of course we will,” she said.
The kettle sang. Roger squeezed past me to get a fork. Patti stuck her head in my cupboard to see if I had any blackcurrant.
John stood up as well as he could from his position wedged behind the table and tapped on his water glass for attention. Ronnie and I moved to the doorway and leaned against the jamb, Ronnie still sucking on the orange.
“This is a welcome home, glad-everybody’s-well tea party,” he said. “Cole took my cane away from me today before I hurt anybody, and Roger is proclaimed sound in the head.” (Sounds of dubity from crowd). “With those releases, I hereby release each and every one of us from work, be it musical, publicity-related, or press-induced. We’re set to go back in the studio November 1, and until then I want healthy, rested, relaxed, cheery people. No song ideas, no thematic nonsense, no innocent statements from Patti or classical allusions from Jo leading to monumental musical epics. Clear your minds, my brave artistic clan. Clear your minds and hearts and Jo go and get that kettle before it boils over. To Amber!”
“I have heard a voice in the wilderness,” I said, rushing to the kettle.