While returning from vacation, we stopped in Frankfort KY for lunch at Steak 'n Shake only after Crazier Don sped past the exit for Panera. I waited while everyone took a potty break by looking around the restaurant to find something that made it different from the other SnS's I have been in.
I came across this photo on the wall near our booth. It was one of those drifting, writers moments that turned off the scenario around me as I entered the world in the photo. I always appreciate in The Voyage of the Dawn treader, in the Chronicles of Narnia series, when the children enter Narnia via a painting on the wall instead of the wardrobe. I can so see myself doing that, indeed, I do enter other worlds when I involve myself in an image.
Here is where I ended up in the Steak and Shake photograph.
Fiona's Oven Failed
Fiona's day started quietly enough for a person that just recently acquired a new home, put their child in a new school and sent her husband off to a new job. Fiona's emotions were rattly and near her skin as she turned back into her home after waving her son off on his first bus ride to his new school. How could he be six years old and how could he be ready to ascend the steps of a bus on his very own? And how could he even be brave enough to tell her to wait by the door and not take him down the driveway? How could her husband be so brave to walk to the train station to head to his new job in the city? How indeed, was she going to get through this new day in disarrangement of everything familiar?
There was much to do in this new house. Lots of short term solutions and some long term plans for remodeling but today it was her task to unpack their worldly possessions into a a semblance of Home Sweet Home. The silence of newness overwhelmed her but after a moment indulging herself in a jag of crying for all the change in her life, she resolutely started on the first box.
As the day wore on and she made herself familiar with the radio stations to learn about her new community, a warm feeling of determination came over her. She would do well in this new place. She would make friends and not weep for what she left. She would make her home a haven and a place where newcomers to her life would be comfortable. It would be slow but it would be steady and she would make her family proud and secure by her contentment.
The shadows of afternoon and the drone of the radio's soap operas warned her of the time and of her need of supper preparation to implement Phase One New Confidence Plan. Fiona turned off the radio after Young Doctor Malone was finished and the ads for the new restaurant in town were completed. The radio entertained her all day as the upbeat sounds of Elvis and Ricky Nelson caused her to dance around her partially unpacked boxes. Even the sadder sounds of 'Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley', made her oddly perky.
The quick stop at the store yesterday provided enough for her meal that night. She had placed the ground beef in the refrigerator for the meat loaf dinner that she planned for their first official meal in their new home. Fiona's mother's recipe for meat loaf pleased her husband and son and brought pleasant thoughts of her own home life in her parents house. As she blended and mixed, she smiled, feeling a rush of excitement contemplating this new chapter of their lives.
Fiona became so involved in her work upstairs, that it was over an hour before she realized that the savory aroma of meatloaf had not yet reached the top of the stairs. New to her appliances and air flow throughout the house, she wasn't overly concerned, but continued in the productive rhythm of unpacking progress.
How could it be on this momentous day, that her husband and son arrived home at the same time? Her husband had been concerned about Fiona adjusting to the newness of the situation and grabbed the early train home, just in time to meet up with Bobby's school bus at the end of their drive.
Fiona was pleased to be able to meet 'her guys' at one time and share her new revelations about her new location and attitude with them. She was eager to hear of their tales of their new days while she finished up the meal. She was eager to try the new instant potatoes mix that the radio ads had touted. She knew that she had a can of green beans in the bare cabinet and she knew with those things, she could make a nice meal for the three of them.
In the midst of Bobby's telling about how he selected his seat in his class according to his favorite color, Fiona recognized the coolness of the kitchen when it should be somewhat warm with the heat of the oven. Cautiously, she opened the door of her new oven, as if peeking would make the imminent news any better. Her husband and son waited for her response. They knew that she had been a bit emotional with the move and all the changes and they just waited.
As Fiona removed the still raw loaf of ground beef from the very cold oven, the room remained still. Quietly, very quietly, she placed the pan on her green Formica kitchen table, wiped her hands on her new apron, smoothed her blue plaid house dress and announced firmly, 'We are going to the new Steak and Shake for supper tonight! My treat!' The three of them laughed and cried at the same time, releasing the tension and stress that this new day brought all of them.
On the way to their destination, Fiona told her guys about listening to the ads on the radio all day about the grand opening of Steak and Shake in their community. She had memorized the location from the constant repetition throughout the day as if she was practicing for the malfunction of her unknown appliance.
Entering the new restaurant, the hoopla of a Grand Opening welcomed them to their new town without them knowing it. The congratulatory flowers, the signs, the cheerfulness of employees on their first week of business, put the three newcomers a celebratory mood and as the darkness of the early fall surrounded them, they giggled about the raw meat at home, the newness of every part of their days and shared in hushed tones, stories that they had experienced separately and now, united, in the friendliness of this other new place, they felt at home.