Jane was baking Hawaiian bread when the fourth foot washed up in the backyard.
…..“I’ll get it,” I said.
…..The whole house smelled like pineapple when I got back inside. The foot was in a plastic grocery bag. I wrapped it tight and placed it in the freezer with the other three.
…..I was delicate enough.
…..“Will you warm some milk?” I asked Jane.
…..“For the bread or for sleep?”
…..She asked because I use skim milk for one and whole milk for the other.
…..“The bread,” I told her.
…..I said, “I believe I’ll sleep okay tonight.”
…..In the last three months, four feet have washed into our backyard. Each of them has been a right foot. We have yet to see a left. Because it’s winter, and probably because they’re dead, the feet freeze, always at near-perfect right angles. At first Jane found it all perhaps a bit suspicious. I thought maybe it was a bit miraculous.
…..But we both found it interesting.
…..It’s less interesting than before, though.
…..Jane found the first foot while she was out on the dock looking at the river. Our neighbors told us that the water had started to freeze over, and that the river overall was a little higher than usual. The foot was just there for her, like a package at the door, on the steel stairs leading up our dock.
…..There’s an island in the middle of the river that juts out toward our house. It’s enough of a block in the current that floating objects shoot into a little pool under the dock. The water stands still in this spot.
…..I guess that’s why the feet come our way.
…..And throughout this year’s winter, the water has stayed warm enough not to freeze entirely. Otherwise the feet would probably be miles beyond us now, still buried underwater, banging up against the frozen surface like memories might.
Jane took the bread from the oven. The pineapple smell rushed out with more strength.
…..“It sure smells Hawaiian,” I said.
…..“Oh, yes,” said Jane. “I hope it’s as good as it smells.”
…..We’ve never tried the Hawaiian bread before now. Most of the other special bread recipes we’ve had and enjoyed. At the supermarket this week, though, Jane decided to try something different.
…..“Something a little wild,” is how she put it.
…..I didn’t need convincing.
…..I was the one to find the second and third foot.
…..It was in the course of one week. Both times, I was shoveling the walkway down to the river. Jane was out buying a new quilt on the afternoon of the second foot. The morning of the third foot, she was inside washing our sheets.
…..We found this something of a coincidence.
…..We used to love coincidences.
…..At the table Jane said, “Ellen says Tom is coming home for Easter this year.”
…..“Bringing the family?”
…..“Oh, I don’t know.”
…..“Well, maybe we should have a dinner or something,” I said. “We can invite them, and the other neighbors too.”
…..“Sure,” said Jane.
…..I felt the bread, still too hot to eat.
…..“Is it ready?” Jane asked.
…..I shook my head.
…..“What are you going to do tomorrow?” Jane asked me.
…..“Tomorrow’s Monday?” I said. “Maybe I’ll go buy a new hat. My hat has some threads coming loose.”
…..“The gray one, the stocking hat.”
…..“Don’t you have another one?” said Jane. “A green one?”
…..“Yeah, but I want a good gray one too.”
…..We sat in silence for a few moments.
…..“I wish Glen could come for Easter,” said Jane.
…..“Honey,” I said.
…..“I know, I know,” she said.
…..We sat in silence for another few moments. I touched the bread again. It was ready this time.
…..“Let me get the milk,” I said. “You want a glass?”
…..She nodded her head.
…..I poured milk from the pot into two tall glasses. I accidentally gave myself a little too much, though, so I had to even out the glasses over the sink. Before going back to the table, I looked in the refrigerator for something to put on the bread. I could just see the feet stacked up high in the back, hidden away like lost children.
…..“Butter, Jane?” I said then. “Or do you want jam? I don’t know which is better for Hawaiian bread.”
…..She didn’t answer. She sat heavy like a stone. The air from the refrigerator was chilly on my hands. It was good and cold inside.
…..“Jane,” I said.
…..“Jane,” I said again.
…..“Jane,” I said a third time.
Timothy Raymond is a first-year MFA student at the University of Wyoming. His fiction appears or will appear at Prime Number Magazine, BLIP Magazine, JMWW, and others. He is at work on a novel.