New Winslow S6E14
Olivia was already making breakfast when Andrew staggered out of his bedroom around six in the morning. He followed the scent of coffee and pancakes into the kitchen, where her back was to him as she dropped batter onto the griddle.
“Morning!” he called.
Liv let out a tiny shriek and spun around, the pancake batter sloshing over the side of the mixing bowl. Andrew held up his hands. “Just me, just me!”
Her shoulders dropped and some of the batter dripped onto the floor. “Shit,” she said, quickly putting the bowl upright again. “Oh my God, Andrew, I’m so sorry.”
“No need to be sorry,” Andrew said as he walked into the room, footsteps light as Liv set the bowl down and picked up a cloth.
“I was a million miles away,” she continued apologetically as she knelt down to wipe up the spill.
On the counter, there was batter dripping down the side of the bowl, joining what had splashed there when he’d scared her. Andrew turned to clean it up, but she saw him move and got to it before he did.
“Is that all?” he said. “Is everything okay?”
He wanted to ask her if maybe she needed some help managing what had happened to her. But that was the fastest way to get her to shut down again. God, she and Noah were so much the same. Not that he had much room to judge her, he supposed. Or Noah. But she was terrified in her own house and he didn’t know how to help with that.
Instead of saying anything of this, Andrew went into the fridge and pulled out orange juice as she went back to the griddle. A moment later, the room felt nearly comfortable again as the two of them worked.
This time Andrew jumped, but only slightly, as Noah walked into the room. He glanced over at Liv, who seemed like she was slightly spooked, but not nearly as frightened as she’d been when he came in. “Morning,” she said.
Noah looked from her to Andrew, who smiled grimly. Noah nodded, but clearly felt the same way about how to manage the situation. They were going to have to tiptoe.
How many months ago had it been Andrew and Liv tiptoeing around Noah? Did time just not happen here?
“Hell of a storm last night,” Noah said, his voice slightly raspy. He went to the coffeemaker and pulled out three mugs, then looked at Andrew again, holding up the mug questioningly.
Andrew nodded. “Cheers,” he said. “What storm?”
“Did you not hear it?” Noah asked as he filled the mugs, steam curling off the top of them. “Jesus, I was worried it tore something down, I kept hearing shit crashing. After breakfast, I’m going to go check the yard for damage.”
Andrew hadn’t heard a thing last night, but maybe he had slept through it. He wasn’t a heavy sleeper, but there were nights, despite his insomnia. But then he saw Liv was looking at Noah oddly too.
“There wasn’t a storm last night,” she said.
“I swear to God there was,” Noah replied, handing her a mug. “I’m impressed you slept through it. There’s gotta be branches down everywhere.”
“Babe, look outside.”
Noah paused as he was handing Andrew his mug, with a gap at the top for what Andrew considered a proper amount of cream and sugar. Then, without a word, he went to the window, still holding the mug. He looked out and shook his head.
“What the hell…”
“I barely slept last night,” Liv said softly. “There was no storm.”
“Must’ve been one hell of a dream,” Andrew said, moving toward Noah to take the mug that he had clearly forgotten he was holding.
Andrew gently touched Noah’s arm, and he jerked out of his trance. “I swear…” he said. “It kept waking me up.”
“I mean, unless I fell asleep at exactly the time this major storm came through, I don’t think it happened,” Olivia said.
Andrew took the coffee mug out of Noah’s hand and headed toward the carton of cream on the counter. Noah continued to look out into the yard for a second, then turned back to them. “Yeah,” he said. “Must’ve been a dream.”
But he still looked uneasy as Olivia handed him a plate of pancakes. “Where’s the girl?” he asked as he went to the fridge and pulled out the glass bottle of maple syrup.
“Sleeping,” Olivia replied. “Growth spurt. She’s been eating twice her normal helpings and I don’t expect her to wake up anytime soon. I’ll save her some pancakes, don’t worry.”
He smiled at her and she smiled back, but both still looked troubled.
A few minutes later, they were all sitting at the table, weak sunlight coming in the window directly onto the small vase of yellow flowers Liv had put in the center of it. Andrew ate his pancakes while the other two talked.
“I’m working the lunch shift over at House of Pizza, then going back for the night shift,” Noah said as he put far too little syrup on his pancakes. “Are you good if I go to a meeting this morning, then go to the Limerick around those shifts? I don’t have to if we’re-”
“No, go,” Olivia said. “I’m heading over with Mia for a little while. My mom has a client meeting today in Worcester, so Mia’s going to be my work buddy for the day.”
Andrew wanted to offer to take her, but he had to be at Iris’s in a couple hours for a fairly long shift. Iris was on the hunt for those missing pages and was yet again distracted from her work. When it came to the shop, Andrew was fine with it. He could manage everything there. She’d even finally given him the bank information.
But she was getting some client calls that he couldn’t do anything about. One fairly nice, yet deeply frustrated woman out of Monson had called the shop the other day to inform him that Iris’s scheduled cleansing hadn’t taken place. She still had something in her house whispering to her family at night. He’d explained that he didn’t work with that side of her business, but would pass the message along.
She’d then told him – in detail – what her twelve-year-old daughter was hearing each night. Which had, of course, angered him too. He had enough professionalism not to shit talk his technical boss on the phone with a client, so he’d written it all down for her and said he would pass it all along. The woman, however, seemed sensitive enough to his tone over the phone to know that she’d clearly found a kindred spirit.
It had almost been a pleasant conversation. But now he had about ten hours of magic shop work ahead of him, then after that he wanted to take a couple hours tonight to consider their opening strategy. That wouldn’t be so bad, he’d just make a cup of tea and bang out some notes to reconsider completely tomorrow morning. Then he’d get up, hate himself for wasting his time on nothingness tonight, worry about his friends, get excited for the shop, feel strange about being excited for the shop, and start the day all over again.
It was like he’d lived it already.