A Summer Dinner Ten Years Ago | Nicholas Kristy

    Bright, yellowish-orange rays of sunlight pass through fingerprint smudges that cover the glass sliding door. The light brown carpet, warmed by the sun, has cat hair and dirt speckled within. I hear the door squeak open, revealing the sound of sizzling meat on a grill.
    “Hey guys,” my father calls to us, “Steaks are almost done.”
    “Okay!” my younger brother and I say, almost in unison, still looking at the television.
    My brother, Patrick, heads for the door, dodging the wooden dinner table and paint-chipped stools. I hop up from the gray La-Z-Boy and walk to the white fridge to grab a soda. My feet are muffled on the carpet, but start clapping against the kitchen tile as I near the icebox.
    “Alright, Patrick, grab your plate,” I overhear Dad saying. “What’s Nick doing?”
    “I dunno,” Patrick says.
    “Getting soda,” I say.
    I snag the grainy fridge handle and hear the familiar clanking of bottles. I tug the door. The smell of juicy, tender meat prompts me to search faster for my soft drink. Finally, I find a single can in the back. I reach in to clasp my hand around the cool, moist aluminum.
    My father pokes his jet-black hair through the doorway.
    “C’mon, Nick.”
    “Alright, alright,” I say.
    One of our cats mewls from inside, as I step onto the scorching concrete. After jumping across my plastic chair’s armrest and placing my can on the glass patio table, Dad sets my plate down. I pick up my knife and fork, cut the steak into pieces, and stab at the first bit. A little juice comes out as the prongs enter the steak, and the first bite enters my mouth. Grilled, not too chewy, rich — perfect. Dad always makes the best steak.
    In the middle of chewing, Dad pipes in. “Damn, this is good,” he says. “What do you guys think?”
    “Good,” I say. Patrick stays silent.
    The sound of chewing and crickets chirping fills the air. We fall silent again. After a moment, a question pops in my head.
    “Dad, can David stay over tonight?”
    “Sure,” he agrees, nodding his head. “Get him after dinner.”
    Later, my father gets up and opens the door again. Winter, our brown, white, and black cat, steps onto the porch. “Here you go, babygirl,” Dad says. She points her brown, slanted nose to the ground, and sniffs. She drifts lazily towards the table, rubbing against my bare legs.
    “You guys want seconds?” Dad asks.
    “No thanks,” I say. Patrick stays silent.
    Our chairs screech as we scoot them out from the table. I then dump my paper plate in the trash, walk past the grill, and grab my orange Mongoose bike, on a quest for a sleepover.