|Maribelle didn’t need to consult her recipe book. She knew the ingredients by heart, which was good, since her left eye was nearly bruised shut and she didn’t know where her glasses went after they had flown from her face. Wherever they were, she knew they were smashed. She remembered the sound of the plastic frames cracking, in slow motion, like the way time slows down as you’re heading for a car crash and there’s nothing you can do about it. She winced as she reached into the pantry for 2 cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup and, from the back of the top shelf, a small bottle with a hand-written label that said “Dark Molasses.” Then she would need a cup of milk, 2 tsp. of soy sauce, ¼ tsp. of ground black pepper, 8 cups of cooked cut green beans, and 2 2/3 cups of canned French-fried onions.
Maribelle set the oven to 350°. She held the measuring cup and spoons close to her face to gauge the ingredients, then stirred everything together in her spring green and ivory white 3-qt. casserole, adding a teaspoon from the dark molasses bottle and reserving a cup of the onions to sprinkle on after baking. She placed the casserole on the top rack of the oven, set the bell timer to go off after 25 mins. and made the pork chops.
A half hour later, she called her husband to the dining room. Even from the other side of the table and without her glasses, Maribelle could see the smear of red across his right knuckles. He inhaled deeply over the table. “Mmmm, Green Bean Surprise. Thank you, Mari. It’s my favorite.” He was three bites in when he toppled forward into his dinner plate.
Maribelle said, “Mine, too.”
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