Would You Like Desert?
By Sally Madison
The dinner was over and the young women were picking up the dishes to take to the kitchen of their student residence, when the door knocker sounded. “I’ll get it,” said Eloise, the house matron, as she proceeded to the door. “Oh, hello, Prescott, hello, Arnold, come in. We’re just finishing dinner. Would you like some desert?”
“Hello, Miss Eloise, looks like our timing is just right. Yes, we’d love desert.” The young men took off their great coats and top hats, and hung them on the coat rack. Entering the dining room, they greeted the young women, “Hello Millie, hello, Audrey.” Millie, clearing the dishes from the table, lifted her head with a jerk, surprised to hear men’s voices. Her body froze, but her hands shook, dropping a plate on the floor. “Whoa, Millie, we didn’t mean to startle you. Here, let me help you.” Arnold was bending to pick up the pieces from the floor.
Millie’s eyes focused on Prescott, as if she had seen a ghost, as she backed into the kitchen. Arnold continued to pick up the pieces and hand them to Audrey, who had watched and was shocked at Millie’s behavior. “What’s wrong with Millie?” inquired Arnold with a nod of his head toward the kitchen door.
“I’m not sure why Millie would have behaved, so rudely,” Audrey said, taking the pieces from Arnold. “I’ve noticed, she has been reticent lately. Maybe she’s not feeling well, but that doesn’t explain her behavior.”
In the kitchen, Millie was bent with her head over the waste basket, emptying her supper from her stomach. Audrey entered casually, but became alarmed, seeing Millie in such a position. “Millie, dear, what is wrong with you?” Audrey raced to her friend and put her arm across Millie’s back in support, just in time to feel Millie’s body collapse. Audrey guided her to one of the kitchen chairs.
“I’m fine,” Millie weakly protested to the coddling. “Take the cookies in, while I frost the cake.” Audrey, seeing Millie was a little better, postponed an additional explanation for the moment, and grabbed the plate of cookies, put on a smile, returned to the dinning room. Millie, cleaned herself up and began the process of frosting the cake.
Not hearing anything from the kitchen for some time, Audrey returned to check on Mille and to bring out the cake. When Audrey looked about the kitchen, she was shocked and horrified at the scene she beheld. There were cake crumbs and frosting all over the kitchen table top and legs, on the chair and on the floor. Millie was crying, crumpled in the corner, with cake crumbs and frosting over her face and clothes, the empty cake plate next to her. “Our dear God, what has happened to you, Millie?” Audrey whispered to her distraught friend as she bent to console her. Both girls sat on the floor and cried, one from shame, one from fear.