The Most Horrible Dinner

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I wipe my feet on the Welcome mat outside their door. God, this house is nice. It's fairly small, but cozy, since it's nestled in the forest. Seriously, I drive past here almost every day and I've never even noticed it. It's pretty hidden from view but also right on the outskirts of town. I wish I lived here instead of my dumpy apartment.

I knock three solid times. "I'll get it!" I hear from inside, but it still takes about a minute. Well, could you get it a little faster, Lindsey? It's chilly out here. An eight year old girl peers up at me when the door opens. "Hi Mitch!"
I smile a little down at her and step in, even though she hasn't invited me to yet. She doesn't notice and happily closes the door behind me. "You remember my name, huh?" I ask, slipping off my shoes and unzipping my jacket, using the coat closet to my left to hang it up.

"Yeah! Papa says I have an amazing memory."

"I... I'm sure you do." I know nothing about kids. What do you say to them? Can they even understand you?

I must be doing okay so far, because she's smiling. "Papa and Daddy are in the kitchen, I can bring you there." Daddy is still an innocent term for her. Cute.

"Thank you." I suppose Scott would like me more if I was nice to his daughter, so I'm really going to try hard to not snap at her. I follow her to the kitchen where I find Scott leaning against the counter right next to the stove, red wine in hand, and Christian with a cigarette dangling from his fingers, sitting on a barstool.

"Mitch! You made it!" Scott exclaims, excited. He places his wine glass on the counter and walks over to me, giving me a quick hug. I freeze, and he gives me a weird look when he pulls back, but doesn't say anything. Christian approaches, switching the cigarette from his right to his left hand, and then giving me a handshake. "Nice to see you again."

"Yeah," I agree, even though it's a lie. Without realizing, I'm staring when he puts the cigarette between his lips. Scott must notice and ends up bringing my attention to the fact my eyes are glued to it.

"Christian, why don't you put that out while we have company?"

"Oh, no, that's not necessary, I just didn't know you smoked," I pass off.

"He smokes way too much. I've been trying to get him to quit since I met him."

Christian removes the tiny cylinder for a moment and lets the smoke filter out of his lips. "It's called a habit for a reason."

"A habit you haven't even tried once to quit."

The tension grows in the room. I smile awkwardly and change the subject for everyone's sake. "I really like your place. Makes me want a house myself."

"Would you like a tour? I'm sure Lindsey would be happy to give you one."

I glance over at the dirty-blonde girl standing near the edge of the room. I forgot she was there, she's so quiet. Maybe I could get used to this kid. If she never talked again.

Lindsey nods, obviously overjoyed.

"Before you go, let me get you something to drink. How do you feel about red wine?" Scott questions, heading back to the counter to grab the bottle.

"I feel marvelous about it."

Scott laughs a little and pours a glass, then serves it to me. I thank him and go over to Lindsey.

"This is our living room," she says, pointing to the dimly lit room right in front of the kitchen and dining room. The only light in the whole house right now is from the hanging lights over their kitchen counter and the sunset peeking through the large windows of their living room. I leave the light behind me though as Lindsey leads me down a dark hallway. "Here's my parents' bedroom." We step just inside the doorway and flick the light switch on so she can point out the connected bathroom. Then we leave there to visit the laundry room and pantry, then head downstairs to see the family room, the furnace closet, the other bathroom, and lastly, her bedroom. She invites me inside, as if I didn't already feel uncomfortable enough, and turns on the light. I follow hesitantly as she walks further inside. I'm standing in a bright pink room with school things scattered around the floor and a pile of stuffed animals and dolls in the corner.

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