Dinner: Forget Me Not (excerpt)

Excerpt from Forget Me Not! Chapter 1, coming soon!


“Maxie,” Isaac spoke up. “Why don’t you sit down and eat?”

Everyone looked at him. Then at her. Then back at him. “Actually, can you grab me a knife first?” Tony said.

“And some napkins, please,” Kathy added. “Anyway, speaking of work. Are you going back anytime soon, Isaac?”

“Ugh, I keep telling him to give it some more time,” Van said. “He wants to go back next week! His head isn’t even healed!”

“It’ll just be for a few hours a week,” he said quietly. “You’re the one who says we should try to go back to normal as much as possible.”

“But a boxing gym, Isaac? What if someone tries to roughhouse? What if you get hurt even more?”

“I won’t.”

“How do you know?” Kathy demanded.

He shrugged. “It’s a risk I’m willing to take.”

She shook her head.  “That’s ridiculous. Why don’t you just let yourself heal?”

“It’s probably the only thing he has left that even relatively familiar.” That was Maxie, setting down Kathy’s napkins and Tony’s knife. “Anyone else need anything?” But no one replied. Their eyes were on her; Tony’s amused, Van’s annoyed, Kathy’s full of suspicion, and Isaac’s full of… of something

“Yeah,” he said. “Exactly.” How did she understand him when no one else could? He wanted so badly to remember her. He couldn’t comprehend not knowing someone who knew him so well.

Waving them off, Van said, “I still think it’s too soon. But he’ll do what he wants.”

“Maxie,” he said again. “Food’s getting cold. Just sit and eat.”

“No one needs anything else?” she asked.

Kathy opened her mouth to say something, but Isaac said firmly, “No. Just sit.”

Not raising her eyes to him or anyone else at the table, Maxie nodded and grabbed a plate, only to realize there were no more seats. “Where’s the extra chair?” she asked.

“Oh, yeah,” Van said. “The leg broke last week. I’ve been meaning to tell you.”

Isaac looked at Van and frowned. “Well, where am I supposed to sit?” Maxie asked.

Van shrugged. “Sorry, Max. I figured by the time you sat down, someone would already be finished.”

“Are you serious?” Isaac said through clenched teeth.

“Well, when does she ever sit down and eat with the rest of us? Everyone’s usually done by the time she starts. You’re the only one who waits for her.”

“You wait for her?” Kathy asked.

“Is she supposed to just stand?” Isaac asked.

“It’s fine, I’ll just take my plate in the living room.”

Isaac turned to her, appalled by the idea. “Bullshit!” he snapped. “You cooked. You’re going to eat at the table with the rest of us.”

“Why don’t you just sit on the counter?” Kathy suggested.

“Yeah, I’ll sit on the counter.”

I’ll sit on the counter,” he said, rising to his feet. He took his full plate, which he hadn’t even touched, and switched it with her empty one. “To be honest, I’m not even hungry anymore.”

Isaac,” Van moaned. “This dinner is for you.”

“You’ve done enough for me.”

“I’m just going to go in the living room,” Maxie said.

Kathy rolled her eyes. “Here she goes. Being antisocial again.”

Isaac looked at Kathy, bewildered. “Are you joking?” He looked at Maxie again, who stared at Kathy in a way that made his heart ache. Then an image of her flashed through his thoughts:

She’s standing somewhere dark, outside maybe? Her hair is long again, pulled back in a ponytail and hanging down her back. She’s crying. Her face is red, her moist lips are trembling, she’s shaking her head as a tear drops down her cheek and wets her white shirt.

She hates me, she sobs. She’ll never forgive me. She hates me.

And then he blinks and the image is gone. But Maxie, Maxie now, is still standing there, the same pain in her eyes. And then she turns and goes to the living room. He knows he shouldn’t look at her, he knows Kathy is watching him like a hawk, but for the life of him, he can’t help it.

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