65 - The Stupid Grape

The Guardian Dolphin

image

I locked eyes with Julie, and methodically salted the grape, until every inch of it was covered with white. Then, still holding her gaze, I plopped it into my mouth, and began to chew.

Julie understood. And to my surprise, she acted on it.

"Mom," she said. "I was at Tim's yesterday, and I went up to his room, and there was picture there, of this other girl…"

Ann saw it coming, and tried to head it off.

"Oh, Honey, don't work yourself up over a little thing like that. Just because he has a picture of a friend in his room doesn't mean…"

But Julie—maybe for the first time in her life—interrupted her.

"But she was sitting on this rock, Mom—the exact same rock that I was sitting on when Tim proposed, and…

Ann interrupted right back.

"So?"

"Well, it was kind of strange, seeing her sitting there, just exactly—I mean exactly—like I was…

Ann looked exasperated.

"Who took you to that rock?" she snapped.

"But that's not the point…"

"Who?"

Julie sighed.

"Tim."

Ann smiled, triumphant.

"So the mystery is solved. He knew about the spot because he had been there before."

Julie shot me a desperate glance.

"You know what I think?" Ann asked.

I had never seen Julie look so miserable.

"What?" she mumbled.

"I think my little girl is finding out what cold feet feel like. It's perfectly natural."

"But, Mom…"

"You're getting the chance I never had. That makes me so happy—I can't tell you. But if you're going to swim, you have to jump in, Dear."

She moved forward, and gave Julie a hug.

"So you just ignore those cold feet, honey. Besides, it'll be good practice for the wedding."

Julie gave me a helpless look over her mother's shoulder. It reminded me of the day her mother told us about selling the restaurant—the day I was going to leave.

Maybe I should have.

But there was nothing I could do at the moment. I gave her a sympathetic smile, and shrugged my shoulders, holding up my helpless hands.

That was when I looked past her, and saw Ann, watching me in the mirror at the end of the counter.

I spit the stupid grape into a napkin.