The Fruit Room
He was standing in the “fruit room”, with the lights off. It would be hard to explain to his beloved in-laws that in some ways this was a bonding activity for him. He needed these moments of silence not because he couldn’t stand the family, but because he needed time to process. There's family and then there's family, after all.
Not that he'd need to explain any more. He's been ducking into this room for a few minutes at a time for years now. Even if the in-laws didn't fully understand his need to sit quietly on the chest freezer for twenty minutes, they were used to it.
This room has had one purpose for years. It holds serried ranks of canned fruit, stews, flour, spices, a deep chest freezer, six different kinds of canned tomatoes(sauce, paste, crushed, stewed, julienned, and seasoned). the bottles and cans have changed over time, each used and rotated conscientiously. The cans change, but not the locations. There are stewed tomatoes next to the red beans, just as there have been for the past fifty years.
When he first married into this family he and his wife would “shop” here. Poor newlyweds in college, his mother-in-law would give him and his wife paper bags and tell them to get what they needed from the fruit room, often while their laundry was in the dryer.
He'd been gainfully employed for years now, no longer needing to shop in someone else's basement, but this room still felt comfortable, still felt like love and security.