Gregor McGillicutty sat down for his dinfast, something Margie would have hated. No person should eat anything at this hour, let alone something of that caliber, she would have told him. He never ate a full meal at work, but by the time he got home it was too early for breakfast and far too late for dinner. Gregor worked with what he had, and came up with his own special meal he called dinfast which consisted of rye toast topped with a medium boiled egg and a side of roast beef and onion hash, paired with a glass of warm milk and one shortbread biscuit. It was both a reward to his stomach for working throughout the night, and a tribute to Mrs. McGillicutty.
Margie had loved two things above all else: cooking and Gregor. Every night at 6:15 when Gregor got home from work she would have a hot dinner spread out on their dark oak table waiting for him. The table had come with her from Margie’s mother when she and Gregor married. Looking down upon it there wasn’t much there, but when Gregor saw the delicately carved legs and the intricate design they held, he knew why Angus had given it to them. Her late husband must have spent years carving the details into those legs; the symbols they held were ones of Scottish tradition representing health and love among many other things Angus had told them.
The dishes, that were always set like royalty were coming to dinner, came in two sizes: small and large. The small one mirrored the larger one in its peculiar shape. The edges on both dishes, instead of being round were like halves of a heart that had been cut in two. Though both plates were cream with gold edges, and had a line of color around the perimeter culminating into one pattern of lines tucked away in a corner, the colors of their lines were different. Margie had liked the blue color, where Gregor had liked the green one. Gregor told her to take the blue ones, after all, she was his love and it was her kitchen. He believed she should have had whatever she liked. Instead Margie surprised him by picking out the smaller plates in the blue and the larger plates in the green. At first she teased they had each picked plates that matched the other’s eyes. Besides, it was their love and their life together, both of them should be happy, she believed.
And they were.
While preparing her list for the week Margie would always ask him what he wanted for dinner, which was silly after a while since his answer was always the same. She wouldn’t let him live on roast beef and potatoes alone, she declared, and decided once a week would be roast beef and potatoes, but every other night would be something else. To Gregor’s surprise she stayed true to her word and one night out of every week in no discernible pattern he would come home to his loving wife with her hair a mess serving her prefect roast beef and potatoes.
Much like the plates, the table, and Margie the roast beef dinners were gone. Instead, on the day of his grocery delivery, Gregor took his pound of roast beef and rationed it out into equal amounts for the five nights he worked a week. He then sliced up the onions, the potatoes, and the bread and separated those into five equal portions. Every day when he arrived home, and it was time for his dinfast Gregor would put a pot of water on the stove, and in the pan next to it fry together the roast beef, the onions, and the potatoes making a hash. Once the hash was ready, but still browning, Gregor would start to boil the water for his egg, and put his toast in the oven. After his plate of food, Gregor would start on his warm milk and biscuit. Something else Margie would only delight him with on nights they ate roast beef and potatoes.
All the while he would think of Mrs. McGillicutty. In the beginning of his odd hours and wifeless nights, once Gregor began eating again, he could never understand how Margie had gotten everything ready without burning their home down. Long before he developed a working system, and still before his meals consisted of hot toast and cold eggs, Gregor had struggled to boil water and not have coal in the shape of toast.
He always remembered her hair a mess; the strands of curls that had fallen out of place, the hidden dust of flour buried amongst the ribbon attempting to hold the curls back. He remembered those curls, because every night when he came home before sitting down to a proper dinner, before doing anything other than removing his felt top hat, Gregor would reach out and rub those curls in his fingers or gently blow away the flour from them as he leaned in to kiss his Margie, the love of his life. It was those memories that helped Gregor work out the kinks in his system and conquer the art of cooking.
Once the dishes were washed and put away, Gregor could feel the effects of warm milk and a long day of work take their tolls. Heading to the bedroom, he would remove his clothes sorting them by whites and darks as he went, and take his pajamas from on top of his pillow to the bathroom. There he would shower, brush his teeth and comb his hair. Once he was dry, he would step into his long pajama pants and then put on his long sleeved pajama top, diligently buttoning up every button until there were only the top three, which he left undone. Summer, winter, spring or fall, every night Gregor wore the same blue stripped pajamas, the ones Margie claimed to have hated, but always had waiting for him on top of his pillow. Once a week when he washes his clothes, he would wash his pajamas first to ensure that they’d be dry when he returned from work.
By now Gregor’s body was almost at the point of aching. Instead of heading right home from work like every other night, he had taken a detour to dust off his hat, which added an unimaginable amount of time to his walk home. Now he was tucked away in his bed, ready for another dreamless sleep before he had to wake, and get ready for work. Almost instantly Gregor began drifting to sleep as his head settled in to his pillow. Right before his mind fully immersed in sleep he saw a pair of beautiful gray eyes and a burst of peacock blue. When Gregor woke, he felt as though he had been in the midst of a dream, and found that his hand was sprawled across his bed as if it were reaching for something that would never return.