'Would you like a brownie?" Michelle asked.
"I thought you didn't like brownies," said Audrey.
"I didn't," said Michelle. "Before."
"I had no sugar in the house before," said Elaine.
Elaine and Audrey helped themselves to a brownie from the paper plate Michelle had put in the middle of the table in her back garden. There were paper napkins, too. Michelle had reassured them, at length, that she had washed her hands before touching the plate and hadn't touched the brownies.
The plate and napkins would be going straight in the green bin after Audrey and Elaine left.
Audrey and Elaine had brought their own coffee, in their own keep cups.
"These are gorgeous," said Elaine. "Did you make them?"
"Yeah," said Michelle, "yesterday. They're nearly all gone and I'd be lying if I said it was the kids ate them. So, really, take two."
"I couldn't," said Audrey. "Well, I could, but I really shouldn't. The sweet stuff has to stop. I put on these jeans to come over here, you know, make an effort, and they're totally digging in to me."
"This skirt has an elasticated waist," said Elaine. "I haven't worn a waistband in months. Meringues, they're my problem. Because they're bad enough on their own, but you really have to have a load of cream with them, too. You should have seen how much cream we were getting with the weekly shop when I was trying to master the meringue recipe."
"And do you have it mastered?" Michelle asked.
"Oh yeah, more's the pity," said Elaine.
"She really has," said Audrey.
"Have you had them?" Michelle said to Audrey, a bit surprised by how sharp the question sounded.
Elaine and Audrey looked flustered.
"I brought some to her front door," Elaine said. "She took them out of my tin at the door, put them in her own tin and that was it. No contact."
"Right," said Michelle, not sure if she was peeved by how lax this sounded, or by the fact that no meringues had been delivered to her.
"You've really mastered the brownies, anyway," said Elaine.
"Yeah," said Michelle. "There were plenty of duds, but sure they got eaten too."
"By the kids?" Audrey asked.
"Not exactly," said Michelle, pulling at the waistband of her yoga pants, which kept rolling down her tummy in a most disconcerting way.
"Would you ever try a bit of cream with them?" Elaine said.
"Definitely next time," said Michelle.
"I'm in," said Audrey.