Thursday, November 25
She had cooked for twenty. like many Italian thanksgiving gatherings, the meal began with a full pasta course. This time, Jessica and her father made Jessica's grandmother's fresh ravioli, the filling a delicate and savory balance of beef, pork, and veal.
For the first time, Sophie helped serve.
By six o'clock the men were sprawled around the living room, snoring away. Tradition called for them to be awake by six-thirty and ready to take part in Round Two.
At ten after six, Jessica opened the front door. South Philly was alive with the holiday. She looked left and right, didn't see Byrne's car. She wanted to call him, but she stopped herself. He had a standing invitation every year, and this year he'd said maybe. With Kevin Byrne, when it concerned events like this, 'maybe' usually meant no. But still.
Jessica was just about to close the door when she looked down. There, on the front steps, was a small white package. She picked it up, closed the door, walked over to the kitchen. She slit open the Scotch tape with a knife. Inside was a ball of yarn. Green yarn. When Jessica brought it into the light she saw that the yarn was the same shade as the oddly constructed cable knit sweater that Kevin Byrne had been wearing around the Roundhouse of late, a sweater, he told her, that had been knitted for him by Lina Laskaris's grandmother, Anna.
Jessica checked on her family. The men were still in a turkey-and- Chianti-induced coma; the women were doing the dishes and sneaking cigarettes out back. Then Jessica walked upstairs into the bedroom, closed the door behind her.
She unspooled the yarn, brushed back her hair, gathered it. She took the yarn, tied her hair into a ponytail, checked herself in the dresser mirror. The autumn had long since taken back the highlights bestowed by summer. She turned to the side, and for a moment had a memory of her mother tying back her hair with green yarn on her first day of school. How much youthfulness the world had then, how full of energy it had been.
She could use some of each.
As the new mother to a rocketing little two-year-old-boy, Jessica was going to need all the vitality and vigor she could muster. The papers had come through a week earlier, and Carlos Balzano was at that moment downstairs charming the entire family.
Jessica looked one final time at the yarn in her hair. In some ways, it was just as good as the original.
No, she thought as she turned out the light and descended the steps. In some ways it was even better.