I’m relieved she did not wear those clunky clogs for our walk so I can comfortably take her hand in mine. She has been babbling non-stop since we left our condo. I see her jaw tighten as Chester lifts his leg on an occupied bench. I am too slow in tugging him away and apologize to the old woman. I return to tight lips and silence. I forego breathing and fill the void with words I should have said years ago, “I’m going to tell you something now.” Ann grabs my shoulders and squares herself to me. She must understand.
I’m fingering the letter in my coat pocket, just waiting for him to tell the truth that I’ve known for two months. I am surprised when he grabs my hand. We never hold hands. I have more to say about our upcoming trip, but I force myself to stop talking. He’s paying more attention to that dog than to me. I will him to say something, anything. And he does. Finally. I cringe at the tear in his eye. When he cries, I cry. I turn him towards me so our audience can no longer see his reddened, wet face.
I’m perched on a park bench in Hawthorne Heights, knitting the sweater I promised Amelia. A content couple walks hurriedly on the paved path. She chatters on. He is attentive. I’m fantasizing about their bright, happy future until their little mutt marks me as his territory. I could not marry a man who was shorter than me. Can you imagine? My husband Earl, on his tippy toes for a kiss! Oh, dear. He is saying something upsetting and she catches me gawking. I notice her peculiar, relieved smile before breaking eye contact. Keep your attention on your knitting, young lady.