Leftovers by Brenda Wolfenbarger

Julianne Perkins stared at the contents of her refrigerator. Leftover turkey, leftover stuffing. Leftover mashed potatoes and gravy. Lots of leftover homemade cranberry sauce with chopped pecans. There was even still leftover pumpkin pie with real whipped cream. She didn’t know what inspired her to make an entire Thanksgiving dinner for herself, but she was regretting the impulse now. How was she going to eat an entire turkey? Goodness, she still felt full from yesterday!

Some of it could be frozen, she guessed. She would put it into partitioned glass containers and make little microwave or oven re-heatable “TV dinners.” Or maybe she’d take some leftovers to her neighbors. That guy in 2C – what was his name? – looked like he could use a turkey dinner or three. Mmm, she’d like to watch him eat it, too. He was delicious looking all on his own, dark wavy hair, pale skin, slender hands. She guessed he didn’t work with his hands; they were so delicate looking. Perhaps he played an instrument, although she’d never heard it.

Julianne wasted a couple of minutes imagining Mr. 2C picking up a piece of pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream and eating it slowly, enjoying every morsel. His eyes would meet hers over the pie and he’d lick the whipped cream off the top with clever curls of his tongue, like a cat. “Good pie,” he’d say, in a husky, rumbling voice. He’d open the door to his apartment and invite her in for a cup of coffee as thanks. Fade to black…

She shook her head to rid it of the fantasy. More likely he’d look at the plate she’d brought, look at her like she was crazy, and inform her that he was a vegetarian, thank you very much. In fact, that might be why he was so pale and slender, he was a malnourished vegetarian! She regretfully decided that Mr. 2C – Andrew, that was it! – would probably not appreciate a plate of leftovers, in that case.

Having settled that she thought of the older couple across the hall. Mr. and Mrs. Stillman. They might like some food; it would save Mrs. Stillman some trouble. They were a bit old fashioned. Mrs. Stillman still cooked every meal except for weekend breakfasts. Often dinner was a tin of fish and crackers eaten while watching Jeopardy! But it was still Mrs. Stillman who brought it to Mr. Stillman while he sat in his recliner with a TV tray. Julianne knew this because she had strategically brought the Stillman’s misdelivered mail at different times of day and had glimpsed their apartment through the door. She found their flocked wallpaper hideous, but it wouldn’t do to say so. Once Mrs. Stillman even invited her in for a late afternoon glass of iced tea, which was nice. Julianne appreciated hospitality; it was sorely lacking these days.

Julianne set about making plates of leftovers for her immediate neighbors. She didn’t use her good plates, of course, but the cheap plastic ones she’d bought for serving burgers on the patio of her apartment. She covered each plate carefully with Saran wrap, which naturally stuck to everything but the plates. She tried to decide which neighbor would receive her largesse first. Her careful decision-making was interrupted by a knock at the door.

Peering out the peephole cautiously, Julianne saw her neighbor from 2A fidgeting in the hallway. What could she possibly want? Did she have mail? Could she want to chat? Miss 2A – Ashley, she thought, but wasn’t sure – never stopped to talk. She always bustled by in the hallway, busy as only the young can be, on her way to Very Important Things.

“Yes?” Julianne opened the door, curious.

“Hi, Julianne, sorry if I’m bothering you. My parents sent me home with so much food yesterday I really don’t know how I’m going to eat it all. I thought you might appreciate some. My mom’s a really good cook.” Miss 2A thrust a large, foil-wrapped plate at Julianne proudly.

 

Brenda Wolfenbarger is a 53-year-old returning student studying English at the Central New Mexico Community College. She enjoys writing and has had her previous work published in the CNM Literary Arts Magazine, Leonardo. She lives in Central New Mexico with her family and pets.

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