First, collect the eggs. Hold the chicken coop open with one hand; hold your breath to avoid the smell. Put the eggs in a plastic bowl and lower the coop door. Make sure it’s locked; a fox got one of the fat white hens a few weeks ago. Let yourself breathe fresh air again as you walk back to the house.
Wash your hands with lemon-scented dish soap.
Take the margarine from the fridge, and the milk. Pull the bread from the cupboard. Check to make sure the cat didn’t gnaw on the bag. Listen for the sound of the TV in the living room. Your father is watching the news.
Take the orange juice concentrate out of the freezer. Pull the tab, pop off the lid and squeeze the cardboard can, still frosty. Mix it in the brown Tupperware pitcher with a long wooden spoon. Lick the sticky concentrate from your fingers.
Wash your hands again.
Set the table with the big plates for everyone, even your little brother, even you. Fold the paper napkins diagonally; weight each one down with a fork. Napkins and forks go to the left of the plates, knives (blades turned inward) and spoons to the right. Nobody actually needs a spoon, but that’s the proper way to do it. Put the salt shaker in front of your father’s plate.
Turn on the electric stove. Crack the eggs into a large, chipped Pyrex measuring cup. (You broke it making oatmeal cookies last winter.) Add some milk—you don’t know why, but that’s how your mother always did it, so you do it that way, too. Whisk briskly until the liquid is smooth and pale yellow. Add margarine to the frying pan and wait for it to coat the bottom. Pour in the beaten eggs.
Make toast in batches, two slices at a time. Snatch it out of the toaster with your fingers and spread it with margarine before it cools. In between batches, scramble the eggs gently. Cut the toast in triangles and arrange them on a plate in neat stacks. This might be the most satisfying part.
When the eggs are cooked through, turn off the stove and slide them onto a platter. Carry the steaming platter to the dining room; hold your breath.
Call everyone to the table. Your mother stumbles in from her bedroom, half asleep. Your father puts out his cigarette. Your brother drinks all of his juice before anyone else sits down. Fill their plates, then nibble on lukewarm toast while your family eats; you don’t actually like eggs at all.