(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Polly, an artist, is home alone in her apartment, recovering from mononucleosis. Donald, who works with her at Ground Zero Graphics, has agreed to stop by her apartment regularly after work to bring her food and a few work assignments. Donald usually stays to visit and chat with Polly, telling her what he will be preparing for dinner for his girlfriend, Louisa, and himself, how their diets are going, and what is going on at work. He even begins to share with Polly the problems that are surfacing between him and Louisa. Donald is unaware that Polly has fallen in love with him, that she stares out of her window at his apartment, and that she has begun to tell herself stories every night about him and Louisa.

One night Donald brings Polly broth, bread, cottage cheese, and cheesecake. For himself and Louisa, he plans to broil red snapper with leeks, mushrooms, and spices. He envies Polly her cheesecake, and she wants to offer him a piece, but is afraid that he will resent her encouraging him to go off his diet.

Although Donald and Louisa have lived together for an unspecified length of time, Louisa has decided that they have become too much of a couple. She has no interest in marrying Donald; Donald’s feelings on the subject are never specified. When pressed, Louisa admits that she wants to have an affair with Phillipe, a French teacher at the private high school at which she teaches English. In a desperate attempt to stop her, Donald offers to send off his portfolio and application to graduate school if she promises not to have the affair, to which Louisa agrees. To celebrate, Donald suggests that they go out for cheesecake, to which Louisa, reluctant but giggling,...

(The entire section is 692 words.)