Breakfast comes to a quick close after that, everyone scraping their chairs across the floors as they get up. The three boys at the table leave to join my father out on the farm, promising to return for lunch. With that, the women clean up, making strained small chat.
"So what are we going to be eating tonight?" I ask, imagining myself standing at the counter with my mother and sister, smiling and laughing with each other while making something delicious.
My mother turns to me, "Well, Renae has the salad covered, and I believe she promised she would bring a pie for dessert. We'll cover the veggies, and make a big pot of my beef stew. Does that sound alright?"
My mouth unconsciously waters at the sound of the meal, and I nod excitedly. Mallory laughs, agreeing with my eagerness to enjoy the dinner. However, the knowledge that I will be interviewed quite thoroughly tonight won't be put down quite that easily. Before I can begin to really wallow in my pity Mallory taps me on the shoulder.
"Can I talk to you for a moment?" When I nod, she leads me out to the backyard where we watch the boys begin their daily tasks. After a moment of small talk, Mallory puts on a businesslike tone.
"Do you remember Lyam Redders?"
"The boy with all the freckles?"
Mallory chuckles, "Yeah, that's the one."
"He was always nice to us. What about him?"
She takes a deep breath, and turns to face me. A smile begins to crack through her serious expression. "Well, we've been seeing each other for the past little while-"
"What?! For how long?"
I'm shushed. "Shh, that's not even the best part."
I raise my eyebrows in questioning, smiling back at my sister.
"Well...It's been getting more and more serious for the past couple of months. Lots of talk about family, which led to talk about marriage. I think I have cause to believe he's planning on proposing soon."
I screech, jumping on my sister. We're both laughing, and I subconsciously add this to the list of shocks I've received since returning home. I pull back to smile at Mallory before giving her another hug. Eventually, we're called back inside to start cutting up the meat, and I find it hard to wipe the smile off my face.