June is impatient to add the oats. Keeps lifting her cup to the hot pan.
No. Let the milk bubble.
Then she wants to stir, moves her stool too close. McCormick endures the risk.
When the goop is in the bowl she arranges apple slices just like the picture on the box, but adds a few raspberries. Then declines sugar or honey.
Doing it herself is sweet enough.
At school he unsticks a zipper, puts wet boots away. She doesn’t turn her head or say a word. Just a backwards wave.
Always, there will be these leavings.
Back to school. Taking the pan off the heat, stirring and folding, returning to the burner. Keeps the eggs soft. They saw Gordon Ramsay do it on Master Chef.
Around the age June is now, a lack arrived. He not only settled but reached for the smallest gun in the pile before Cops and Robbers. And when they got to Montana he became referee in recess football. Not a player. Never meant to be.
He worried he’d pass incapacity on. Or the food allergy would make June hang back.
But she always takes a big bite. This kid has appetite.
According to his grandmother, people named Grivas died with their own hair and teeth.
And McCormick always believed going gray at thirty meant he wouldn’t suffer baldness. If he didn’t wear hats he probably wouldn’t recede at all.
As for teeth, he’s replaced what God gave him with titanium more than once.
He texts a photo from the chair to Julie (Jung-hye), who’s at lunch with her brother-in-law, niece, and June. They lost their sister, wife, mom, aunt (Sun-hi) in April.
He hates kimchi, but still feels left out. He taps another text:
Dr. Lotus says I have complicated roots.
First, that scooter he bought to ride around with June. Then showing off at beach yoga. Anyone could have predicted what would come next.
Facebook posts. Many. Of his kid and his wife, at the volcano and the waterfall…OMG, JUNE IS SNORKELING!
Worst of all, selfies from the golf course.
The only pics left in the camera were of food. Sure, you could have tasted that brick of flaming marshmallow flanked by banana ice cream and an elegant pile of graham cracker crumbs right through the video. But he had to maintain a shadow of his fiction. That cool reserve.
McCormick, peeking around the lockers to see who’s creating the ruckus, finds not a skin-tight, crew-cut, but long hair and eighteenth-century beard with a draped tank and mod Nike booties.
Whoa, what’s in the blender bottle? Gym Hipster, chugging, declares:
“This dick’s on my Instagram every day saying, you shouldn’t eat that after weights. I said, hey dick, I am 20 pounds lighter than you, I can outrun, outlift, and certainly outpunch you. Your arms are broomsticks compared to mine. Look at me and look at you, then tell me again what I need to learn about nutrition and definition!”
(Finally, McCormick finds his flow…)
Helping Julie unjam the work sitch gives McCormick a boost. Light and joyful, he roasts a chicken and sautés spinach. June, tired from her day in the sun, pouts. She was hoping for pasta. The parents shrug. The kid eats.
June falls asleep easily. The night comes cool. McCormick and Julie rent Vegas Baby, because everything else on Amazon looks scary or stupid. The IVF stories choke them up. They hold hands, recalling June’s arrival. A miracle. They were both past 40, and their own fertility doc had assured them, “Without my help you will never have a child.”
(the story of late-life conception continues in the next installment…)