Everybody agreed that Nana Coldharp, well up in her eighties now, was at last clearly too old to manage the family Thanksgiving get-together anymore, so this year her late-in-life daughter Hibiscus, known as Biscuit, was to be in charge. Biscuit was the youngest of the Coldharps by more than twenty years, and there weren’t likely to be any more of them, since her brother David still hadn’t married—and, considering that he was now fifty and seldom left the house, he didn’t seem likely to. Everybody called him Shortstack. The family, living and dead, was mostly Hoffmans now, since Biscuit’s older sister Judith had married Hanky Hoffman in 1982. He had died fifteen years ago, but Biscuit still hadn’t warmed to him.
At 4 PM on Thanksgiving afternoon she had put on an apron and tied her chestnut hair back in a ponytail and was preparing the accommodation water for certain of the expected guests. Under the sink was a board that swung up, and from the recess underneath she carefully lifted out the original bottle and unlooped the ribbon that held the glass stopper in place.
She poured half of it into a saucepan, restoppered the bottle and set it back where she’d got it, then filled the saucepan with water from the tap. It would warm gradually on an unlit burner as the turkey was finishing up in the oven.