“You made it!”
Marin smiled hesitantly and held out the bottle of red wine. “I did. Am I late? I hope I’m not late.” She stepped into the entryway of Heather’s house and felt her heart jump at the creak in the floorboards. “Oh my.”
Her head in the hall closet, Heather called back, “The old house has a lot of noise in it. Don’t worry, you won’t break anything.” Heather was as laid back and cheerful at home as she was in the office. When she emerged from the closet, there was some spider web clinging to her dark hair. She grinned, oblivious. “Go on into the living room, I just need to tackle some of the apps in the kitchen.”
“Would you like some help?”
“Nah, I got it. Go sit.” And just like that, Heather had vanished down a dark hall.
Marin stepped into the living room. It was dark but cozily lit with candles and the lamps from the side tables and with the light bouncing off the walls, Marin could see why Heather would’ve been charmed by the ancient Victorian house at the end of the road. She moved to sit on the love seat and shivered as she felt a draft from somewhere, the air ice cold. She wondered if a window was open and glanced behind her to check.
They looked closed and locked tight. Marin heard Heather bump into something in the kitchen and when she turned back to call out to see if she was all right, there was a woman beside her on the love seat, her eyes dead, her skin as milky white as the long sheath dress she wore. Marin blinked but the figure remained. She sucked in a breath of cold air and wondered if she should scream. Or maybe she was crazy but the woman was so close and looked so real. She smelled like lavendar and it was so thick, almost cloying.
“Here we are!” Heather breezed in with a tray and slipped it onto the coffee table. Marin looked at her and when she looked back, the woman in white was gone. “We are ready for book club.” Her beaming smile fell away as she glimpsed Marin’s face. “Oh no, are you okay?”
“T-there, um, well.” Marin clawed at her throat. “There was a, a woman-” and to her amazement, Heather didn’t look shocked or scared at all but annoyed.
“Dangit.” Heather put her hands on her hips and cast an annoyed glance around the parlor. “That’s my, well, I guess you could call her my roommate. Shoot. I told her to give us some privacy. Oh well,” she said with a laugh to Marin. “You know how it goes. Craigslist.”
I love writing for this blog in October. A whole month of scary stories- witches and goblins and werewolves and things that go bump in the night. I hope you like them too.
As for the real world, it’s getting pretty scary out there. Things have gotten pretty heavy. Maybe now’s a good time for something light. Maybe it’s time for bread and cheese and fruit, all thrown together, the oven set to blister. Maybe it’s a good time to forgo dinner and things like bowls and forks and napkins (okay maybe we keep the napkins close by) and just have appetizers. These little nuggets would do nicely, working triple duty as starter, dinner and dessert too. We’ll go more substantial tomorrow maybe. Yeah. Good idea.
“It would be kinda embarrassing trying to explain what an appetizer is to someone from a starving country though. “Yeah the appetizer, that’s the food we eat before we have our food…No no you’re thinking of dessert, that’s food we eat after we have our food.” – Jim Gaffigan
Fig and Goat Cheese Bruschetta
1 and 1/4 Cups (9 ounces) of chopped dried Mission figs
1/3 Cup of sugar
1/3 Cup of coarsely chopped orange sections
1 Teaspoon of grated orange rind
1/3 Cup of fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
1/2 Teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 Teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
40 (1/2-inch-thick) slices of French bread baguette, toasted (about 8 ounces)
1 and 1/4 Cups (10 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
5 Teaspoons of finely chopped walnuts
1. In a small saucepan, combine first 7 ingredients and bring to a boil.
2. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until figs are tender.
3. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature.
4. Preheat broiler.
5. Top each bread slice with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of fig mixture and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of goat cheese. Arrange bruschetta on a baking sheet; sprinkle evenly with walnuts. Broil 2 minutes or until nuts begin to brown. Serve warm.
P.S. With everything that’s going on in the country right now, it’s way, way too easy to get swept up in political rhetoric and walk away feeling disgusted; the pull to cut yourself off from it all is very strong. Maybe that’s why this post made me stop in my tracks this morning. There are people suffering out there. There are real needs that are not being met. No matter what you believe or blame, suffering can and should be addressed. We are not helpless, we are capable. If you’re in a position to help, you should. You should set an example for your children, for your neighbors, for your friends, that goes beyond a disillusioned post on Facebook and a shake of your head.
If you can donate blood, give blood. If you can donate food, give food. If you have cash to spare, donate it. Here’s an easy one- the next time you hit the supermarket for your groceries, set aside money for a gift card from the store and drop it off to a food bank or church on your way home. It’s easy and fast and you can do it.