Family Chill

Family Chill E1


Mishaps send a dashing young man into an unanticipated emergency that leads to more surprises.

This romcom combines multiple mental issues, centering around a funeral.

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Inspired by a prominent cooking show, Lucas purchases an expensive chef’s knife. Watching online videos, he learns the nuances of slicing, dicing, chopping, mincing, and chiffonade. He loves gourmet food but hasn’t found many vegan restaurants that elevate meals.

As the roasting of root vegetables is complete, his sauce is simmering. When the phone rings, he looks away at an inopportune time, accidentally cutting through his fingernail. Blood begins gushing everywhere.

He knows the routine well. Turn off the oven and burners, rinse, and wrap the wound. Refrigerate the food and head to a nearby urgent care. Lucas is on a first-name basis with the attending nurse, Maya. She shakes her head when he arrives. “Hello, Lucas. What brings you here this time?”

“I was preparing dinner and got distracted.” Holding up his finger with blood oozing through half a dozen bandages, he continues. “And this happened.”

“You won’t have many fingers left at this rate. It’s your third cut in as many months.”

“True. Believe me, I’m getting better with my knife skills. It was the phone this time.”

“Okay. It was the phone’s fault. Let me take a look…. Oh, this is a nasty one. Fortunately, you received your tetanus shot on a prior visit. I’ll send the doctor in for an evaluation.”

His physician has concerns about possible infection, so he prescribes an antibiotic along with an antibacterial ointment. He then sends the nurse back in to dress the wound.

“Well, let’s get this cut fixed up. You’ll require a couple of stitches this time. That means you’ll get a shot in your finger to numb it up. Is that okay?”

“Even if it’s painful, I can’t let on to you.”

“Why is that?”

“Well, I… want to…. Ah, just get it over with.”

When injecting the needle, Maya asks, “Are those tears streaming from a big handsome man like you?”

“No, of course not. It may be a reaction to your perfume.”

“I’m not wearing any.”

“Then maybe it’s my cologne.”

While dressing the wound, Maya alerts her patient, “You’ll need to keep this wound dry. What is this injury gonna do to your dinner plans for this evening?”

“Well, I put everything in the refrigerator. To keep the wound dry, I might resort to takeout food.”

“My shift is almost over. If you want, perhaps I can stop by and see what we might salvage from your homemade dinner.”

“That would be great. I live nearby…. You probably know that from my medical records.”

“Can I see you around 6 o’clock?”

“That sounds perfect, Maya.”

Salvaging Disaster

Lucas picks up his prescriptions on the way home. To minimize the throbbing, he takes over-the-counter pain relievers. He then lays down, beginning to fall asleep. About a quarter after six, the doorbell rings. It’s Maya. He nearly forgot. Jumping up to compose himself with vertiginous lightheadedness, he rushes to answer.

“Welcome. Please step in. Wow! It doesn’t look like you came directly from work. I’ve only seen you in scrubs.”

“I live nearby. So I had a chance to freshen up before stopping by.”

“Thanks again for this. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy you’re here. But isn’t there a law against dating patients?”

“First of all, it isn’t a law. It’s an ethical consideration. Second, it applies more to physicians than nurses.”

“Great. Then you’re, legally here. If any of my babbling sounds odd, I blame it on the blood loss.”

“Do you think I was being too forward, inviting myself over?”

“No, from what I’ve learned over the past few months, you were just demonstrating your concern to help others. Besides, I was building up my nerve to ask you, if you didn’t.”

“That breaks the ice. How’s your finger?”

“It’s uh… not a distraction, as long as you’re here. If you aren’t able to salvage my meal, we can grab a bite somewhere else.”

“Lead me to your kitchen fiasco. You saw how well I suture. I’m pretty handy in the kitchen too…. It looks like you were making an amazing marinara sauce. I have to ask, did you contaminate it—you know, with your blood?”

“I want to say no. But erroring on the side of caution, let’s say I did and head to a restaurant.”

“Okay, as long as you invite me back in the future to demonstrate my kitchen skills with sterile ingredients.”

“How can I say no to that? Let me put on a better shirt and shoes so I won’t resemble your parking valet.”

Very Different

At the restaurant, Maya orders a roasted rosemary chicken and Lucas receives a pasta primavera. She asks, “Are you a vegetarian?”

“Guilty. Well, actually transitioning into a vegan. I still have a weakness for real cheese, though I enjoy cashew cheese too.”

“Veganism is a pretty severe dietary restriction. Does it bother you to see me eating meat?”

“No, not at all. Go ahead. The animal is already dead.”

“Okay, I’ll try to enjoy it, despite your sarcasm.”

During their meal, Lucas learns that his date is very close to her family. They enjoy weekly Sunday suppers. It’s quite a contrast from the dysfunction among his relatives. When the evening ends early, they make plans for dinner at his home the next day.

“Text me a shopping list and I’ll have it ready for you.”

Lucas has done a good job of hiding his pain through dinner but now his lacrimal glands are filling again. All he wants to do is sleep. But first, he checks his phone for the message that caused so much suffering.

It’s from his older brother’s widow, Sophia. Her last conversation was a year earlier when she announced her husband’s death. Today, her voice is breaking up with a similar timbre.

Dialing her up, he inquires, “Sorry for the late reply. Is everything all right?”

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news. This is hard to say, but your younger brother, Wyatt, took his life, last week. I’m so sorry.”

The revelation numbs the pain of Lucas’ injury. “How? Why? Were there any signs?”

“You know about his mental illness?”

“Yes, it runs in the family. It’s so sad. I’ll reach out to his wife.”

“There’s a message for you. Apparently, he said before death that he doesn’t want you contacting his wife.”

“Like your late husband, he’s been reclusive since his early 20s. Now he wants to continue his separation from the grave?”

The phone call ends, leaving Lucas to mourn in private. He thinks of past conversations and events from childhood. Honoring his brother’s last wishes, Lucas does not receive an obituary or information about the funeral.

Maya comes by early one morning with an armful of breakfast groceries. “Good morning. How’s your finger healing?”

“Good morning. What a pleasant surprise. It’s fine. Come on in. What’s all this?”

“Well, I have some plant-based eggs in a clear plastic container.

There’s some vegan bread. I was looking for boysenberry jam, but the store only had girlsenberrry.”

“What’s that?”

“It just means I’m cooking—instead of you. I also bought nutmeg, pure maple syrup, potatoes, scallions, bell pepper, and hazelnut coffee. Can you guess what I’m going to prepare?”

“That sounds much like French toast with scrambled eggs and home fries.”

“Good call. Any objections?”

“None at all?” Later, while dining on breakfast, Lucas confides in Maya. “Your family seems so… amazing. Mine continually keeps me at arm’s length.”

“It sounds like what you need is a good old-fashioned Sunday supper. Why not come with me this weekend?”

“You must be from down south. As nice as that sounds, I will be a vegan fish out of water.”

“You know you’ll get some ribbing from Southerners for being a vegan. But you can skate by as a vegetarian if you eat cornbread along with mac and cheese. Everyone prepares family recipes.”

“Okay. Cheese and salad, but no literal ribbing.”

The dinner solidifies the impression Lucas has of Maya. She’s definitely out of his league. There’s no way his relatives can compete with her family’s warmth. Hopefully, she will never come close to them.


Return twice weekly for miniseries. Any relation to actual persons or events is coincidental. Login provides the most immersive experience. About 4500 total words. Audio may include sound effects that alter reading time.

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