Wallace Page 6
which was what she called anyone who didn't swallow her bullshit and feed her theirs with a silver spoon. I suppose Clarissa and I both needed to distance ourselves from her somehow.
    It took me an hour to find the motel, and it was all booked. So I drove back to my sister's house. Their house was dark. I parked the car and leaned back in the driver's seat. Then I opened the sunroof and counted the stars, waiting to fall asleep.

    The next morning, Sam came out to the car with coffee and an apology.
"It was late, and I was grumpy, and Clarissa's been a regular basket-case this week with her mom's upcoming funeral and all." He handed me the coffee through the window. "Wanna come inside for breakfast?"
    He led me up the walkway, through the living room, and into the kitchen where their three kids sat at the table

pouring lakes of syrup over burnt pancakes.
    "Kids," he announced, "this is your uncle Marty." They looked up from their pancakes, none too impressed or curious. "Mom, can I be done?" asked the youngest through sticky lips.
I heard Clarissa set a pan down, and she came out of the kitchen wiping her hands on her apron. She was big, probably only a month or two away, but her eyes were wide and energetic. "Marty!" She hugged me hard, and I couldn't help but feel the bulge of a forming baby press up against me.
    She insisted that I sit down and have some breakfast-and excused her youngest in order to make room. After breakfast I offered to help with the dishes, but she wouldn't let me.
    "There's only room for one at the sink," she said, pushing hard against the pan with the pancake ashes.