DishedBy: Adan Ramie
The girl's eyes, trained on the covered pot, flicked occasionally to the metal sheet on which almonds, toasted to a golden crunch, sat cooling. The fragrance of dill wafted into her nostrils and she breathed in deeply. The old woman next to her sat upright, her posture perfect despite her advanced age, her eyes sweeping over the worn pages of the heavy Bible in her lap.
"Yaya, is it ready?" the girl whispered.
Her grandmother reached one hand out and pushed in the girl's lower back, never moving her eyes. The girl straightened and shut her mouth.
"Adonia, it will be ready when it is ready. You must have patience." She turned her eyes to stare at the girl's face, suppressing a smile. "You are just like your mother at your age. Only five years old and wound up to spring."
Adonia's back bowed again and she twisted her lips up in a pout. She gulped back the tears she knew wouldn't do any good and steadied her voice. "Will she come back?" she asked. Her voice cracked.
The old woman sighed. "Kalo mou." She wrapped her sandpapery hands around the girl's cheeks and brought her in close to her face. "You don't worry about what your mother does. You worry about learning to be a better woman than she." She planted a kiss on Adonia's forehead, then pushed her back into her chair.
Standing, Yaya ambled over to the counter, where she poured dill seeds from a pan into a little black mortar. She shoved the mortar and pestle into Adonia's hands, then climbed back onto her stool. Adjusting herself, her right hand turned one page of the Bible. With her left, she pushed the girl's back. "Patience brings wisdom."
Adonia Zabat tapped her knife against the cutting board, then pushed the little pile of minced dill into the electric mixer and handed the board to the woman beside her. She moved straight to spooning half a cup of sour cream into the mixer, then horseradish. She squeezed a lemon, tossing the peels and seeds into the trash, and finally looked up when she felt eyes on her. Her cooking partner's eyes widened in surprise, then she blushed and turned back to her vegetables.
"Can I help you with something?"
She had more skills than most of the other new recruits, and she wasn't hesitant to share them. Whether they took her up on the offer of help was their choice. The competition was fierce on the Betheny Clement Bitez tour, but if any of them made it through, they could have their choice of jobs for other musicians and artists alike. It was the chance of a lifetime, and some people couldn't handle the pressure. Adonia hoped her partner wasn't one of the ones who would crack fast.
The woman beside her shook her head at the offer and furiously sliced red bell peppers. Adonia turned back to her mixer, grinding sea salt and fresh cracked pepper over it all, and rolled her eyes at the woman's pride. She put the top on and turned the mixer on to blend all the ingredients, rubbed the back of her hand over the sweat beading on her forehead under her short-cropped hair, then looked sideways at the woman she had been assigned to work with for the duration of the Bitez tour.
Her partner's skin under the blush was the color of apricot butter, and her hair, swept up at the back of her head in a knot, reminded Adonia of dark, rich espresso. She might have been a few years Adonia's junior, but she couldn't say for sure, because despite her blushing and stuttering, there was wisdom in her eyes that spoke volumes. Adonia's own eyes traced the gentle sway of her partner's lower back until her cell phone chirped and snapped her out of her inspection. She wiped her hands on her apron, then pulled the phone out of her pocket and looked at its face. When she swore, the woman next to her looked up at her expectantly.
"We have twenty minutes to get the salmon spread and crudité over to the venue. Ms. Clement cut her performance short due to a wardrobe malfunction." She bit the inside of her bottom lip to stop the laughter that danced up from her belly. She cleared her throat, furrowed her brow, and continued reading. "If we're not there in time, we can consider ourselves unemployed, and make our way back home to 'wallow in our own obscurity'. O'Brien's words."
Her partner groaned. "I hate celebrities."
Adonia snorted in agreement, then turned to her partner and touched her arm. The woman met her gaze, and Adonia saw the moisture on the rims of her dark eyes. She knew the look. She was new to the game, and while she had skills, this was probably a more competitive situation than she was used to. If Adonia didn't watch herself, she would be smitten with the ingenue.
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