verb, intransitive. To move swiftly. To attack or criticize sharply.
noun. Energy, enthusiasm, or liveliness. In cooking, a strong or piquant flavor.
Carol narrowed her eyes as her niece entered the apartment. Compared to her usual carefully-groomed appearance, Zoe looked awful: barefoot, no makeup hiding the acne, her hair gathered untidily in a scrunchie, falling in an uncombed pony tail. Carol was tempted to zing the girl with a caustic remark, then she noticed Zoe's red-rimmed eyes. She had been crying, and recently.
Carol returned her attention to the frying pan full of bacon. They had all cried a lot this week. Long talks and even some laughter had been punctuated by spells of crippling grief. She was glad they could all stay in the same building. Her mother's retirement community had two "guest apartments" they were currently occupying. All the same, the closeness also had its drawbacks. Her patience with her nephews and with this niece in particular was wearing thin.
"Would you like bacon and eggs, Zoe?" she called to the girl, who was standing by the dining table, staring into space.
Zoe shook slightly as she mentally returned from some distant place. "Um ... no. I don't think so." She sounded vague, uncertain.
Carol picked up a strip of sizzling bacon and lay it down in the pan on its other side. Frying this package was taking forever. She wished she had baked the entire pound, as she usually did, but had not been able to face the prospect of searching for the broiler pan in this unfamiliar kitchen.
Where were the others? She wondered how many would want eggs, and would Dad feel like eating bacon and eggs or should she fix him....
It had happened again: for a moment she had forgotten he was dead, and that his death was the reason they were all here, the reason everyone kept breaking into tears. Her father was gone, and was never coming back. The little girl inside her who had never grown up wailed silently in anguish and Carol felt her own tears emerge again as she stood sentry over the cooking meat.
Definitions adapted from The New Oxford American Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Inc., 2005 (eBook Edition, copyright 2008), and from Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Company, Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, 1965, depending on which is more convenient to hand.