I popped out of my reverie with a start. “Gwen, come on in.”
“Where in heavens name were you?” she asked, opening the screen door to the kitchen. “You looked like you were on Mars.”
Gwen Webster has been my friend since we were girls. We grew up a few houses apart and Gwen taught English and drama at the same high school. Now we live a few blocks apart and, since we are both retired, we check in on each other practically every day.
“I was day-dreaming.” I picked up the basket of knitting beside my chair. “Did you bring your knitting? We can sit on the porch.”
“Not today.” She crossed to the cupboard and lifted the tea towel I had draped over a platter. “You must have just made these; they're still warm. You make the best scones of anyone.”
“Thanks. They're buttermilk and huckleberry. Help yourself.”
The last statement was superfluous because Gwen had already taken a plate from the cupboard and plunked a scone down on it. I was well aware that Gwen probably did not need the extra calories—she was always complaining about the weight she had gained since retiring. The way I see it is, we're both so far over the hill what does it matter at this point?
“I only have a few minutes. I told Naomi I'd drive her to the ophthalmologist in Danvers. They're going to put drops in her eyes so she thought she shouldn't drive.” She sliced the scone in half and spread it with butter.
“What are you working on now?” Gwen carried her coffee and scone to the table and joined me.
“It's a shawl for my niece's wedding in October; isn't it pretty?” I held out the piece for her to examine. Nothing makes me as happy as watching the inches of delicate, filmy lace, as fine as a spider's web, tumble down from my needles.
“It's gorgeous.” Gwen stroked one of the balls of yarn in my basket. “So soft. I don't know how on earth you work with such fine yarn. What size are those needles? They're tiny.”
I held up one of the new nickel-plated steel needles I purchased just for this project. “These are double-zeroes. You need a super-sharp point for lace this fine. I don't really like them though. They're too hard on my hands. I read that wooden needles are better for us old, arthritic knitters so I ordered some. I can't wait for them to get here.”
“You amaze me.” Gwen sighed. “I'd go blind trying to knit with yarn that fine.” She finished the last of her scone then pressed her fingertip to the crumbs on the plate and licked them clean. “Cece, that was absolutely delicious. I wish I could stay but I better get going.”
She stood up and carried her dishes to the sink.
“Why don't you take a couple of those scones home with you? Take some for Naomi, too. I'll wrap them up for you.” I started to put down my knitting but she pulled open a cupboard drawer and took out a box of plastic sandwich bags.
“Don't bother. I'll wrap them up.”
I knew she would. Whenever I bake I make more than I'll ever eat. Someone I can give them to always comes by.
Gwen tucked a couple scones in each bag.
I kept my eyes on my knitting and said, as lightly as I could, “And are you doing okay?”
She paused and the silence felt like it could go either way. Then she said, “I'm fine. I started reading the new Cara Black mystery for next Monday. I think it will be a good one.”
“Good,” I said, staying focused on my knitting. “I'm looking forward to it. You always do a great job.”
She stood looking at me for a minute as though she wasn't sure what to say, then picked up the packages of scones and said, “I'll talk to you tomorrow.”
“You bet. Drive safely.”
She let the screen door bang as she left. I wasn't sure if that was on purpose or not, but I wouldn't have been surprised if it was.