25 Foods #10: Salad Dressing
This sort of story is what comes about when I have a prompt that I have absolutely no idea what to do with. In this case, I was absolutely stuck on how salad dressing could work as a prompt until I came up with the idea of it smearing something Victor was working on in the middle of lunch. Everything followed from there -- though it helps that I'd already figured out that Victor a) has almost no relationship with his parents and b) is probably a bit too hopeful of an eventual reconciliation. (Their response to this letter, which is seen in a prompt entitled "Second Chance," finally dashes those hopes for good.)
“Oh! Oh, no. . . .”
Alice, walking down the hall, paused and glanced inside Victor’s study with a frown. Victor was on one knee in front of his desk, picking up the remains of the salad he’d taken for his lunch. “Knocked it over?” Alice said, going inside to help him and assess the damage to the carpet.
“Yes,” Victor said with a sigh. “All over my desk, no less. I should have never put dressing on it.”
“It’s all right,” Alice assured him, glancing at his desk. “A little soap and water, and--”
She paused as she noted the piece of paper to the right of the overturned bowl, smeared with salad dressing. “What’s this?”
Victor straightened and looked at it. “It’s – a letter,” he said after a moment. “I’ve been working on drafts of it for the past couple of days. I thought I’d finally gotten the words straight when. . .” He held up the bits of lettuce. “My usual luck, of course.”
“Of course,” Alice said, leaning over to examine the letter more closely. Most of the ink had been ruined by the dressing, but she could still make out the salutation:
Alice blinked, then looked back up at Victor, baffled. He sighed, obviously anticipating her question. “I – I – I have to tell them they have a grandchild,” he whispered, lowering his eyes. “I’m not asking them to come over and meet him, I’m not saying they even have to write back, but – they deserve to know the Van Dort line will be c-carried on.”
Alice reached out and put her hand on Victor’s arm. She wasn’t sure what to say. She personally thought Victor’s parents could go rot somewhere for the way they’d treated their son. But she also knew Victor had taken their final rejection of him very hard. If this helped him at all, she could support it. Even if it meant possibly communicating with people she despised. “That’s fine,” she told him. “You do whatever you need to do.”
Victor nodded, looking relieved. “T-thank you for understanding.”
Alice smiled at him. “You’re my husband. Just remember – no matter how they react, you always have me.” There was a loud cry from down the hall. “Us,” Alice corrected herself.
Victor smiled back. “I know.” He picked up the sodden remains of the letter. “Go tend to Chester; I can finish here.”
“I’ll bring you some more lunch once I’ve settled him down,” Alice promised. “But, this time, I think you ought to leave your letter writing until after you’ve finished eating.”