The new grill sits in pieces on the patio, a metal island in a sea of Allen wrenches.
It is August, and far too hot for this sort of thing. Trista and I – both head-sweaters – have come inside to throw ourselves into chairs and dab at our red, salty faces.
From my seat in the three-season porch, I wipe the sweat from my forehead, press my sweating glass of green Kool-Aid against a temple.
Trista continues, stubbornly, to hold the instructional pamphlet that came with the grill. Among the many things I like about her, aside from the way she holds the door open or blushes when I talk about my boyfriends, is her willingness to assemble large items for me.
Not today, though. The grill, she taunts us.
Maybe it’s the heat, oppressive in its wet-wool-blanket summer-ness, but the whole thing has proven to be beyond us.
Deb sits up from the couch she has been lying on. “When are we eating?”
Trista stands up, moves over to the spot Deb has vacated on the couch. Deb lays her head in Trista’s lap.
One hand holding the instructions, the other absentmindedly wrapped in Deb’s long brown hair, Trista chews on the inside of her cheek while she ponders the unassembled grill’s schematics. With a disgusted expulsion of air, she drops the booklet.
“It’s too hot,” she says. She bends forward; and in a display of flexibility I would’ve bet against, kisses Deb’s forehead.
The screen door swings open, and The Boy, 12 years old, bright blue eyes blazing, explodes into the room.
“What’s going on in here?”
I frown at him.
Trista, red-faced and flustered, looks at me, looks at Dylan. “I’m so sorry,” she says.
“What?” I say.
“What?” I say.
Trista smiles apologetically. “It’s okay. I’ve got it.” She turns back to the sweating young boy in the doorway. “You see, Dylan,” she says, “when a woman loves another woman, it’s only right that she wants to hold her, sometimes maybe kiss her on her pretty little forehead. But I never meant to show any dis—“
Dylan waves his arms. “Pfffft,” he says in disgust. “I don’t care about lesbians. I meant that.” He points to the grill. “When’s supper?”
Trista pushes Deb up and away, moves toward the door, smiling.
“How good are you with an Allen wrench, Dylan?”