His parents are in town. That means obligatory steaks at The Met.
His dad talks cheerily on, and his mother is sullen, as usual. She hardly turns her head when Meredith speaks, just looks down disdainfully at the fork near her plate, huge diamonds flashing in her ears.
The steaks haven’t arrived yet, but Meredith digs into a cup of seafood bisque that the tux-clad waiter puts in front of her. She’s glad not to have to partake in the conversation for a moment. It’s easier to eat, and pretend that she’s listening.
She’s never liked bisque before, and rarely eats steak, but today she is ravenous, and the lobster seems to melt in her mouth, the hot broth sliding down her throat. Her stomach growls when she thinks about the steak. She reaches out and takes a roll, sliding it open with a knife, and then spreading butter over it. She takes a huge bite as his mother drones on about her bikram yoga class, and her new guru. “His name is Paka-ji,” she says importantly, turning to Meredith to see if she’s listening. Meredith doesn’t look up. She doesn’t care.
There is lobster in the seafood bisque, and clams and prawns. Her reflection wavers in the cup of soup, her long wavy hair contracting and expanding as she stares. Then she catches a glimpse of a prawn floating in the broth, curled in on itself, pink, helpless. She thinks of the fetus growing in her uterus. It’s eight weeks now. It doesn’t look like the prawn yet, but it has intelligence, and is building on itself, growing. Unfolding, becoming human.
She slurps the last bite of soup a bit daringly, and his mother looks over in distaste, but doesn’t say a word. “Well, it sure looks like you enjoyed that, Meredith!” his dad laughs heartily. She smiles in concession. She actually likes his dad.
“Meredith, are you feeling alright?” his mother suddenly asks, looking down her nose. “You seem rather… sullen today.”
Meredith fetches a tight smile, not caring that it doesn’t look genuine. Actually, she’s glad that it doesn’t. “Oh, I’m fine Linda,” she says. “Just fine.”
She looks back down at her bread and tears a piece off, eating it with obvious pleasure, closing her eyes and moaning. There is silence at the table, and she doesn’t even want to know what Daniel is thinking. He must hate her right now. But she doesn’t care. She’s feeling defiant.
The food arrives, and his mother gets all fluttery for a moment, directing the waiter where to put all the plates. When everything is properly arranged, they pick up their knives and forks and begin talking. Meredith digs into her steak with vigor. She has no regard for the conversation. His mother is saying something about tennis, or a tennis bracelet, Meredith doesn’t care. She just wants to enjoy this food as much as possible. When the waiter appears to check on the table, she orders a martini.
“But honey, it’s only one o’clock,” Daniel says, apprehension in his eyes. “All the more reason!” Meredith says brightly, digging into her steak. The appointment’s in two days. She’s feeling reckless.
When his mother starts criticizing her clothes- “Darling, you really should shop at Barney’s, I think you’d find the designs much more fitting to your style,” Meredith just looks at her with a plastic smile on her face and nods. I’m pregnant with your grandchild, she thinks. And you’re never going to know him.