On my seventh night, I'm eating alone at the table, listening to the dull bare of the TV in my mother's room, when the doorbell rings. I start to call her, suddenly the TV goes silent, the bedroom door bangs, and Mother is dashing to open the door.
"Ethan!" She gasps, and reaches out to throw her arms around the person in the doorway--I catch a glimpse of a tall, blond figure--"Come in! What's going on? Is Brenda alright?"
"Brenda's fine, Nan," He answers, and his voice is warm and friendly. "She's waiting in the car. She asked me to pick up some clothes she needed from her room." He steps into the kitchen and catches sight of me at the table. "You must be Brenda's mom, Laura," His voice booms, and he thrusts a hand towards me. His friendliness catches me off guard. "I'm Ethan. It's nice to finally meet you!"
"Yes..." I reach out to shake his hand, wondering how much he knows. Probably everything, since he's Brenda's fiancee, and none of it good. "It's good to meet you, Ethan. I've heard a lot."
"Nan?" A second figure appears in the doorway, and my heart leaps as I see her. The wavy brown hair, navy jackets, and the voice--my voice, only lighter, more delicate, more free.
"Brenda!" Mother reaches for her, and I hear the relief and joy in her voice. "I've been worried about you! Why haven't you called? Why didn't you tell me you were coming home?"
"I'm sorry, Nan, I'm sorry!" She gasps, "We've just been planning for the wedding and and...and..." She stops, and sees me. Her eyes turn hard, and her voice cold, as she adds, "You didn't need to worry."
"Please come in," Mother begs. "I'll make you and Ethan a nice dinner! What would you like? Anything you want."
"I'm sorry, we really can't stay," Brenda smiles apologetically. "I just needed my skirt suit. I have a job interview in Chicago."
"I think we should stay for dinner," Ethan murmurs, slipping an arm around her waist.
"We really need to go, Ethan."
"Please, baby. It'll mean so much to Nan." He glances towards me.
She glances from him, to Mother, to me, and then sets her purse down on the floor with a loud clunk. "Fine." She hisses.