Nursing my second cup of coffee, I start as Alice puts a plate of apple pie under my nose with a, “On the house,” and a pat on my shoulder.

“Thank you,” I murmur, knowing it’s futile to argue with her.

Alice nods, then disappears back behind the counter to help other customers. I dutifully begin eating my slice of pie, though the memories that keep assaulting me make it difficult to swallow at times.

Greeted by the smell of warm apple pie, I smile as I walk through the door and call out,”Esme? I’m home!”

“In the kitchen!” comes the predictable reply.
I glance around in amazement at the array of food. Seeing Esme bent over to take something out of the oven, I rush to her side and gently move her out of the way so I can take the apple pie out instead. Esme groans as she stretches her back, murmuring her appreciation.

Once the oven’s closed and everything’s safely put away, I turn to take her in my arms – something made slightly awkward by her protruding belly.

Kissing her forehead, I scold her gently, “I thought the doctor said for you to take it easy, love? What if you go into labour and I’m not here? Where’s Maggie, anyway? I thought she was supposed to be here, in case…”

Esme clucks her tongue, brushing off my concerns, claiming she’s perfectly fine and that it’s normal for women to nest, as she puts it.