There were tables full of food at the wake for Jay’s dad, from the church, from his coworkers. Mrs. Eldman’s book club brought desserts and fresh fruit sliced to look like flowers and tiny animals. Mrs. Eldman stood at the open front door looking like she wanted to shut it or run through it. She greeted friends of her late husband. They used words like “condolences” while they carried trays of meats and casseroles, party food that insulted her lack of appetite.
Jay and Melissa ate pineapple because they’d heard that it helped you digest meat. It was something Jay’s dad had told them, after a barbecue, their diaphragms pinched from fullness. Melissa had watched his hands, always speckled with paint splatters, as they held firmly the knife that sliced downward toward the picnic table. The juice gathered in rivulets, escaping with ease through the gaps in the planks of the homemade picnic table. Mr. Eldman’s hands had made that table.