Dalt’s worked late again, but he knows the kids are hungry, and he pulls out stuff for dinner, dragging around the kitchen as if he’s wearing shackles. I turn my chair toward the fridge, ask if he wants a beer, but he shakes his head, says they framed all day, that even one beer would put him right out. Race framing, he calls it, trying to get two more houses closed in before winter.

He slices mushrooms and onions, his shirt hazed with sawdust, flaked with the odd wood chip, the Carhartt bibs stained and frayed. The knife’s a blur, and I fear for his scarred knuckles, but he slides everything into the sizzling butter without drawing blood. Not, I guess, that he’d notice if he did.

I draw in a breath, as though the smell’s something I can savor.

“Still one of your faves?” he asks.

“Duh,” I say.

I’ve kept the loss of taste to myself. Maybe it’s a privacy issue, that being another thing I don’t have much left of, but, really, what good would it do him to know I can’t taste a thing he cooks for me? The kids gave him a chef’s hammer a few Father’s Days ago, and he wields it now like he’s still driving nails, flattening entire chicken breasts in four or five blows.

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