Excerpt from Linda Danz's collection of short stories: Breath Visible, published by Bookbaby, December 2017

He’ll Come Around

The kitchen glowed dully at the flick of the wall switch. She’d got used to darkening the rooms she was not actually in. She felt less vulnerable behind heavy velvet drapes.

When her brother and his wife had visited from New York, their presence in her house had unnerved her. Nothing was ever said, but the way Cheryl flicked on lights in every room made Wendy feel somehow prehistoric. Everything was too small, too dark for Cheryl. She was especially vocal as she crashed around—at once cheerful and disturbed—in the unfamiliar and poorly outfitted kitchen, making them a home-cooked meal of something Dodi barely even touched.

Wendy filled the electric kettle from the tap. She poured boiling water into her everyday pot to warm it. She was pleased with her last trip to Aldi. The tea was cheap but still made a good cuppa. She popped a bag into the warmed teapot and refilled it with boiling water.

Lifting the tea cozy, she thought better of it. Cheaper took longer to brew. She had time. Needing a biscuit, she rummaged in an engorged cupboard full of mega-size cereal boxes, dog treats, dried pasta. She pushed aside packages of Jammie Dodgers and Jaffa Cakes, removing one of half a dozen unopened packages of HobNobs. She debated whether to throw away the opened bag of granola Cheryl had brought with them on their last visit. The organic pasta had not been touched. Not knowing what the New Yorkers ate, Wendy had insisted Dodi get some in.

She did know they didn’t eat meat. Dodi had fried up a panful of bacon every morning of their stay. “Bacon butty?” he’d ask, ripping into a greasy sandwich. Cheryl would roll her eyes. Dodi’s scorn had to be reined in constantly. Cheryl got up his nose, though Wendy suspected he’d been a little awed by her, had even made a few drunken passes. “He only does that when he likes you,” she’d told an indignant Cheryl.

She frowned and bit into a biscuit, catching the oaty crumbs. She sipped from the un-chipped side of the black-and-white mug, stamped with a big red heart: I Love Cornwall. She should use her blue-and-white china cups, the fancy teapot with the oriental scene, her bone china dinner plates with the gold trim. What was she waiting for?