I’ve tossed too many sliced mushrooms into the skillet and now they’re sputtering. I skate them around with the spatula. The liquid rises and froths. I know this is no way to prepare dinner, and to confirm my ineptitude, I reach for the bottle of red wine and splash it over the chili flakes, not fresh chili flakes but three years past the best by date, after they’ve lost heat. I shake and shake, take minor joy in my incompetence. If not firm, the mushrooms will at least have a taste. It is then that I feel you coming into the kitchen though you’ve been dead since summer. You’re telling me you’re an outstanding cook. You’re saying there’s no excuse I can’t be the same. You’re praising your soups, your salt-baked fish, reciting the steps of your recipes aloud. No, Dad. You don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve smelled those disasters, the smoky kitchen, the crusted pots. Your sink! Hot suds emergency. You’re as lonely as I am, living as if to refuse you’re by yourself now. You and I choose to be ignorant, just to assure ourselves we’re in some middle place—a temporary apartment—until the love we knew comes back to us. No, Paul, it isn’t that way at all. How is it you know so much?