Layne turned off the burner on the stove and lifted the pot of carrots. He looked around, trying to find somewhere to put it, but the other burners were all engaged. He settled on a trivet on the counter, hoping the heat from the pot wouldn’t melt the laminate. Do your job, trivet, he thought.
He checked on the potatoes – soft. He turned off the burner, drained the water, and pressed the masher in. When they were a good, thick paste, he set them on another trivet.
The oven timer buzzed as he mashed the squash. Good enough, he thought, setting it back on the stove – on the carrot’s former burner – and grabbed the oven mitts. He pulled the turkey out and carried it into the dining room, setting it in the middle of the table. It was a small turkey, not quite eight pounds. Layne had specifically asked the farmer for the smallest he had, the one that no one else wanted, and the farmer obliged.
Layne hurried back to the kitchen, grabbed the mashed potatoes and squash, and brought them into the dining room. He returned for the carrots and the gravy – a mushroom-based vegetarian gravy – and brought those out as well.
Layne went back to the kitchen one last time, retrieving two plates from the cupboard, and a single fork and knife from the drawer. He took them to the dining room table and laid them out, then spooned out the vegetables to both plates. He sliced off a sizeable portion of turkey for himself, then replaced the cover on the pan. He poured gravy on both plates and surveyed his work. Picture-perfect, he thought.
He took a breath, then remembered the cranberry sauce. He ran to the fridge, pulled it out, and spooned some onto both plates. He picked up the lighter and lit the two candles on the table, nodded to himself, then called out, “Sammy!”
Sammy lifted his head from the couch, then raised his whole body and trotted over. Layne patted on the seat of the chair, and Sammy jumped up. “Stay,” Layne said.
He walked around the table to his own seat, sat, and said, “Release.” Sammy tucked into the food, licking it up as fast as possible. Layne grinned, speared a piece of turkey, and took a bite. “Merry Christmas, Sammy,” he said around his food. Sammy glanced up, continuing to lick the plate.