The vegetables are oddly ragged for having recently spent time in a searing hot wok. They are adorned with a pungent tan sauce the likes of which I had never tasted before entering this place. The whole mess sits atop a wad of sticky rice straight from the little mauve Panasonic cooker in the kitchen.
Food is the barometer of this house. When the cook is happy, I eat like a potentate on a diplomatic mission. When the cook is vexed by life or miffed by some slight on my part, I eat wretchedly.
I wonder what I have done this day to anger him. Our morning ritual was nothing more than ritual.
When I meet his eyes, I see something else there. A new distress lurks in the lines drawn tight across his forehead. I know what I gave up when I came here. It was no more than what I'd given up long ago, really, when the fates of people and planets were playing out somewhere in the Deep Dark and I went chasing the fortune of a dozen lifetimes. Still, I am not prepared for this tension on the part of my daily adversary.