Monday, August 10, 2015

The Girl Who Won ELI’S HEART

Eli’s Krissy

     It sometimes concerns me that people might look at the blurb for Eli’s Heart and see it’s about a classical pianist with a bad heart, and think it’s not something they’d enjoy reading. It is all the above, but it’s also about a young man who wants what most young men want, a happy and fulfilling life, which includes being with the person he loves.
     There is a lot of music in the book, to be sure, and quite a bit about Eli’s heart condition, Tetralogy of Fallot. There has to be, because it’s a constant part of his life and later his and Krissy’s life together. But Eli’s heart condition doesn’t define him. And as young newlyweds he and Krissy are learning a lot about each other. The book begins in the nineteen fifties, a period when people tended to marry young if they wanted to be together – and Krissy and Eli definitely want to be together.      
     The first year of their marriage has highs and lows, and they wanted me to share all of that with the people who read their story. Here’s an excerpt.

     A week later Krissy decided to try her hand at lasagna. She shopped for the ingredients a day ahead, following Kim’s instructions carefully. When she got home the next day to start cooking, she placed her portable record player on the dinette table and put La Traviata on the turntable.
     First the meat sauce; as Kim had instructed, she browned the beef and drained it through a colander, then added the tomato sauce and seasoning to taste. Kim’s recipe called for a third of a cup of red wine. Krissy had a bottle of Chianti that had been a wedding gift. She thought, if wine is good in the sauce, how about a little in the cook? She poured some Chianti in a small juice glass, stirred the sauce and tasted it, and took another sip of her wine. She had lots of time; Eli had a rehearsal for the trio and wouldn’t be home until six, so she planned to put the lasagna in the oven by five-thirty.
     While the noodles were cooking, she tasted the sauce again and poured herself a little more Chianti. She started the opera over and started singing with Violetta when she got to “Sempre libera.” Krissy started to feel creative, and decided another half glass of wine in the cook might be a great idea.
     Putting the layers together was kind of like making a piece of art. She was liberal with the parsley; Krissy liked parsley. She finished the dish by topping it with Parmesan cheese and put her lasagna in the oven, pouring a little more wine in her glass so she could toast the cook. She had a loaf of French bread she sliced, and added butter and a very light sprinkle of garlic powder. She put the record player away but continued to sing as she set the table, switching to “Torna a Surriento.”
      Eli walked in as she was taking the dish out of the oven. He couldn’t believe it was his apartment; a delicious aroma hit him as he came through the door. Krissy met him with a passionate kiss, flushed with Italian opera, Italian cooking, and Chianti. She took off his coat and ushered him to the table and served his food, pouring a glass of wine for him and another half glass for herself.
     When he took his first bite, she loved seeing his eyes get very big. “Kristina ... this is delicious!” He took another bite.  “Maybe even better than Kim’s.” He took another bite, and said very little through the rest of the meal. He was too busy eating. Krissy had to agree with him, she had made good lasagna. “How did you do this, wife? I mean, I know you’ve been learning to cook, but this is ...”
     Krissy laughed, “Eli, I’ve been an awful cook. You’ve been so sweet to put up with all my experiments in the kitchen. Kim was a big help; she wrote out her recipe and told me not to be afraid to add stuff. She says that’s what Italian cooking is all about. I’m happy this turned out so well. Maybe I should stick with Italian.” She took another sip of wine. “You know what ... maybe I was Italian in another life.” They both laughed.
     Eli finished his second generous helping of lasagna and Krissy wrapped up the casserole dish and put it in the refrigerator for dinner the next day. One really nice thing about lasagna was that there was enough left for another meal. Her first leftovers. They scraped their plates and washed and dried the dishes.
     “Maybe I won’t have to add ‘good cook’ to my list of Things That Aren’t Going to Happen,” Krissy told him. “Oh, I never told you about that list, did I? Ballerina, opera star, famous actress ... that’s the list so far. All my limited talents.”
     Eli put his arms around her. “There’s one talent you have that’s definitely not limited, my love,” he said. “Fortunately for me, it’s something you do for an audience of one.”
     “Well, it’s a big help that the audience is interactive,” she said as he led her into the bedroom.