The dishwater was scalding. Brady welcomed the pain. He fished around under the cloud of bubbles for a bowl.
“There’s gloves under the sink,” said Lori.
She was leaning against the counter, pouring yellow wine into her mouth, brushing her unwashed blonde hair back behind her ears.
“I know,” said Brady, resting the heels of his reddened hands on the edge of the sink. He was waiting for the skin to stop stinging before plunging them back into the water.
“Do you now? Colour me surprised.” She took another drink. “And colour me amazed that you even found the sink.”
The handful of cutlery burned into the palm of his hand. He scrubbed the melted cheese off the forks and knives, dipped them in the water, and dropped them in the cup of the dish rack.
“It’s the only way they’re going to get done.”
He wrung the water from the sponge with a slow and deliberate twisting motion, his hands up where Lori could see them.
“Oh, is it?” she said.
She walked around the counter, behind Brady’s back, to the fridge. The box of wine in the door felt light. She gave it a shake, frowned, and carried it back to the counter.
“You’re the only reason the dishes are getting done?” she said and tore open the top of the box and ripped out the silver bag.
“You just left them in the sink,” he said.
Maybe he should have used gloves. He wasn’t going to add cold water while she was standing there. The sodden remnants of macaroni and cheese clinging to the plate he held made him think of bodies too long in the ocean.
“I just left them in the sink,” she echoed as she squeezed the last of the wine from the bag, raising it up high so the yellow stream arced into the glass where it gurgled and frothed then petered out. She shook the last few drops from the end of the spout and dropped the empty bag on the counter.
“I left them in the sink, Brady, because I wanted to enjoy a glass of wine before I put them in the dishwasher.”
Brady stopped. He turned to Lori with the dripping sponge in one hand and a saucepan in the other. Confusion gathered in his brows and his mouth.
Lori leaned over the counter, glass in hand, and pointed with her chin at the white enamelled panel set under the counter to his right.
“We have a dishwasher?”
He dropped the saucepan in the water and opened the dishwasher. It was crammed with stained glasses, crusty plates and bowls, mouldy pans; every bit of crockery and cookware that once filled the empty cupboards. An intense odour of compost and rotting meat filled the kitchen. He slammed the door shut.
“Why haven’t you run it?”
“Can’t,” she said, flashed him a bitter smile and took a sip of wine.
He brought his hands up, twisting between demanding and pleading.
“For starters, we’re all out of the tablets.”
“We can buy more tablets at the store.”
“We could,” she said and looked away from Brady, away from the kitchen, out the glass doors to the backyard where the dog lay in the circle of dirt defined by the length of its chain, chewing its paws. “But it wouldn’t work.”
“Because it’s powered by love, Brady. And there’s nowhere we can buy any of that.”
Brady turned to the dishwasher and pushed at the buttons.
“Maybe it’s just a blown fuse,” he said.
“No,” said Lori, still staring at the dog, her glass against her chin, “it’s love.”