couch across the room from me.
"Well!" she announced, and I knew what she
"Well," I said.
She picked at a tomato sauce stain on her
black blouse. "This isn't very noticeable, is it?" Although her belly
was wide and firm, her face was soft and hollow. It looked as though
she were slowly rotting from the stress of being alone.
"Nah," I said. Neither of us had changed all
day, and by dinnertime I didn't dare take off my jacket since I knew
the shirt underneath was badly pitted-out. I sweat like a hog, so
does Clarissa. I'll bet she has to put on some pretty tough deodorant
since ladies aren't supposed to sweat. We'll probably both die of
aluminum-induced Alzheimer's forty years down the road-locked away
and asking after each other. Our kids will call us crazy.
"Hey," she said, coming to. "Sorry you had
to sleep in the car last night."
"Don't worry about it. I slept like a baby."
She grinned fiercely. "That's a lie. You nearly
fell asleep in your mashed potatoes tonight at dinner."
I loosened my tie, realizing it was still
done-up tight. "Well, don't worry about it. I shouldn't've shown up
like I did."
She picked at the stain. "I'm really glad
to see you again."
"Yeah. Too bad about Mom though." I hadn't
really thought of the woman all day. I imagined her standing at the
top of the staircase and telling us to get to bed.
Clarissa shrugged. "Let's be honest: she made
a crappy grandmother. My kids hated going to see her on the weekends.
She used to make them read the Bible aloud and chew with their mouths
closed. Never stopped nagging them. I'm really glad to see you though.
You have no idea how much I missed you. It tore me up when you disappeared