Charlotte and Gram have me for the whole day. After last night, I expected to at least be able to sleep in before whatever they had in plan. Nope, Gram dragged me out of bed
“Five more minutes.” I mumble. I’m stumbling around and I can’t concentrate on anything.
“You’re going to waste the day away with your five minutes!” She answers back a little too loudly for my still groggy brain. I decide not to argue anymore and just let her take me wherever. A little while later, she plops me down on a chair. My eyes immediately open to the sight of breakfast before me.
“Did you have a good dinner with the Crawfords?” Gram asks.
I pour myself a cup of coffee. “It was interesting to say the least.”
“What happened?” Charlotte asks from across me.
I wrinkle my nose. Although she is my mother’s best friend, I didn’t think I was obliged to share to her my insecurities with my boyfriend’s family. But she asked the question and now I have to answer it. Truthfully. I really hate diel.
“His mother insulted me after I went to the bathroom. I heard it when I came back.”
Both adults look at me in surprise and I feel guilty. I look sheepishly at Gram who is glaring t me. From my vantage point, I could see her hands trembling. “Gram?”
She looks away from me. “We’ll talk about this later. You and Charlotte have a lot to do today.”
“You’re not going?”
“You shouldn’t have done that.” Charlotte tells me as we browse in a store.
I look around. I’ve walked past this store so many times but I’ve never gone in. But here I am now with Charlotte.
“Answered your question?”
“Hidden how Riley’s parents treat you.”
I shrug. “It’s not something I like to talk about.” I pull out a blouse from a rack. “If you know Gram, you know she doesn’t like it when someone treats her family badly.” I check the blouse’s price tag. “I didn’t want her to start World War Three early.”
Charlotte laughs. “I see. That blouse looks nice. Do you want me to buy it for you?”
I look at her blankly. “What for?”
“As a birthday present.”
I didn’t think it was necessary but I let her purchase it anyway. After that, we went from store to store buying whatever we needed for the party tomorrow.
“There’s this really good restaurant in the mall. Do you want to have dinner there?”
The restaurant wasn’t really something. In fact, in terms of ambience, other places were better than it. The real draw of the restaurant was the food. You could go to any other place and their food wouldn’t even be able to compare.
Charlotte and I are looking at the menu. My mouth is watering from just imagining the food that I would get to eat. They all sound so good. “What do you think Charlotte?”
She’s smiling so wide her cheeks must be hurting. “They all look so good, waiter!” Charlotte calls. A man immediately approaches us. “What’s the best dish you serve here?”
“I’d recommend the fish fillet. It’s really popular with our patrons.” The man answers automatically.
“The fish fillet it is! Two dishes, please.”
When the waiter leaves, Charlotte smiles brightly at me. “You don’t have conversations with me.”
“I do talk to you.”
Charlotte shakes her head and picks up her fork. She examines it “Talking to me is when I ask you something and you answer back then shut your mouth. Having a conversation with me is when after you answer, you continue to talk about something else.” She puts her fork down and looks at me right in the eye.
I could see the challenge in her eyes. I open my mouth to ask her what she wants me to say to that but then think better of it. I rack my brain for something to start a conversation with.
“Can you tell me about my parents?”
Charlotte’s smile drops and she looks at me with narrowed eyes. I meet her gaze head on. “So…” she begins no doubt to tell me that she won’t. “What do you want to know?”
The waiter comes back and serves our food. I look away from her for a moment and take a bite. I can’t help but be embarrassed by the sigh that escapes me. The food is that good. Charlotte laughs at my expression and I smile. “Tell me everything about them.”
“Everything?” She raises her eyebrows at me.
I nod eagerly. I’m leaning forward to hear her every word.
“Maybe after dinner.” She tells me.
With that, we quietly ate dinner. Although I was disappointed at her response, I’m excited for later. Gram never told me about my parents. Even if dad was her son, she never had any pictures of him at home. I’ve tried so hard to look for anything in the attic that might have belonged to him but there was none. After that, I just assumed that losing dad was too much for her and I never brought it up again.
So you can’t really blame me if there’s someone who will finally tell me about my parents. “It’s after dinner.” I announce.
Charlotte calls the waiter for the check and as we wait for it, she looks me over. “Your mother and I were roommates in college. That’s where she met your father. They sat beside each other in their math class. Emily wasn’t really good in math but Rob was. Whenever I wasn’t with Emily, Id find her in the library with Rob.”
“What were you both taking back then?” I interrupt her.
Charlotte’s eyes get this far away look. “I wanted to be an architect and she took accountancy.”
“But didn’t you just say that mom was not mathematically gifted?”
Charlotte laughs. “I was as surprised as you when she told me. But I couldn’t tell her no so I just rolled with it. Actually, thanks to her stubbornness, she was able to meet your father because of that. And even—”
“Your bill, ma’am.” The waiter hands her the card. I watch as Charlotte’s face morphs from happy nostalgia to something I couldn’t identify. Her lips formed a frigid line and I could see her growing pale. She hands over the money and the bill to the waiter.
“Are you ready to go?” She doesn’t even wait for me to answer because she’s out the door.
“Charlotte!” I chase after her. I walk as fast as I can. It’s a rule of mine to never run after eating. I once had a stomach problem that hospitalized me because I ran. Charlotte is in the car and is revving it up. I open the passenger door and get in before she takes off without me. We’re both sweating from the effort. “Are you okay?”
She refuses to look at me and takes five slow breaths. I watch as her shaking reduces slightly. We drive away from the restaurant. Fortunately, home is a two hour drive away. I have enough time to ask her what happened.
“And even though she always asked help from your father, she graduated in the top ten of our batch.” It takes me a moment to realize she’s continuing her conversation earlier. “She got hired right off the bat. And what’s more, your mother and father were co-workers. Talk about coincidence.”
“The day she found out that they’d be working together, she was so happy. ‘It’s destiny, Charlotte’ she would always say. She really like him and would always pray that he’d approach her and ask her out.”
“When he did, she was a bundle of nerves. She wasn’t even able to go to work that day. He had to pick her up at her house.”
“She couldn’t stop talking about their date for days. She kept telling me all the things she did until I could recite them with her.” She chuckles.
Her already white knuckles grip the steering wheel tighter. “Yes?”
‘”What happened?” I asked quietly.
She glares at me. “I hate this! I hate this so much! Can’t you see that I’m upset and am trying to forget what happened by telling you stories of your parents? Didn’t you want that, Paige? Didn’t you want to hear about them? Well, listen up to them and don’t ever ask what happened back there ever again!”
She tries to tell me about my parents but I don’t want to hear it anymore. I reach forward to open the radio. “Do you mind?” I ask her.
Her eyes are brimming with tears. “No, go ahead.”
I choose a station playing smooth jazz and look out the window. The scenery passes by us so fast I’m sure Charlotte isn’t following the speed limit. But I don’t tell her this. I keep my mouth shut and wait until she can calm down enough to talk to me.
We finally reach home when she speaks. “Paige,”
I look at her. “Can you open the trunk? I’ll try to carry as much of the things we bought as I can.” I get out of the car and she follows.
She opens the trunk and I try to scoop up as many bags in my hands as possible. “Paige, I’m sorry for snapping at you earlier.”
I walk to the front door. “It’s okay. I get that you got upset over something and you just took it out on me. Heaven knows how many times I’ve taken something that upsets me out on Riley. He’s really understanding. So I understand. It’s okay, Charlotte.”
“Really?” Charlotte catches up to me. She opens the door.
I walk inside the house and give her my best smile. “Yes. I hope all these things we bought can make Gram forget that she was mad at me earlier.”
Charlotte smiles sadly and peeks into the living room where Gram is obviously waiting. “We’ll see.”