"Dana? Dana? Dana?" said Marta, trying to get her mother's attention for what seemed to Dana like the fiftieth time that day.
"Tanda Smith says how come I don't have a Daddy like the other girls?"
Dana sighed. She heard a lot from her six-year-old about what Tanda Smith said. She wanted to go to that school and tell Tanda to butt out her daughter's life.
"I told you. You're a very special girl and you were born in a very special place where there were only Mummys."
"Dana? Dana? DANA!"
"Don't shout, sweetheart - it isn't nice."
"Tanda Smith says how come you buy food from the store that's, like, someone's already put it together and, well, you only have to put it in the microwave? Tanda Smith says her Mummy is always chopping vegetables and stuff..."
Dana was so relieved Sandy was coming to visit with her little girl later. She had never realised when she had first set foot in that scary purple room in "The House" all those years ago that she'd make a friend like Sandy. Truth be told she'd never had a friend before - not a real friend. That's probably why she'd become so close to Mike and let him do all that stuff to her. She hadn't fully thought about it at the time but she now realised that she'd never really enjoyed any of that stuff, not really. It had been more to please Mike. She'd missed him to start with when he stopped phoning and visiting and stuff but then she'd realised, hey, who needs Mike? Sandy was always there for her. Where was Mike when she needed him? She wondered how Marta would get on if she met her father. Would he be so overcome face to face with his daughter that he'd start to pop round every week, bring her presents, do Christmases together, Sunday dinners, watch TV together, take her to the park...
But she could not allow these thoughts. That made her vulnerable, all that stuff. Of course Mike wouldn't do any of that. If he saw Marta he'd probably freak and run in the opposite direction. He probably hadn't told anyone he had responsibilities. Well, he didn't have any responsibilities. She laughed humorlessly. No, she decided - no more Mike thoughts today. No, no more Mike thoughts for a week - he was now banned from her mind. Totally. Totally. No more Mike.
The bell went and she answered it. There was her good friend Sandy and her little girl. Dana had only seen Tabitha twice before. She had grown so much! Dana hoped she would become friends with her daughter. Then maybe she'd hear less about how Tanda Smith's mother made jam and all the garbage that little girl had to say about stuff she knew nothing about.
Dana embraced her old friend. It was a long embrace, just as it always had been every time they met.
As Tabitha and Marta played together and Sandy made pasta for them all and Dana drank the wine Sandy had bought and watched "Desperate Housewives" she thought to herself "I wonder if Mike's watching this show?" No, she realised; he'd never watch something like this. He'd be watching Leo Rautins talk about the latest basketball game. Maybe if she'd spent more time trying to understand basketball he'd have stayed with her she wondered? Anyway it didn't matter. No more Mike thoughts now for a whole month, she decided. She hardly thought about him anyway.
Sandy let them know when the food was ready. Dana could tell anyway - it smelled so tasty. It was nice when her kitchen had food like this in it. It made a change from the microwave pizzas.
They all sat to eat. Marta was starting to quote Tabitha now, with her sitting right next her! Dana took that as a real good sign. Maybe they were about to be released from the curse of Tanda Smith and her words of wisdom?
She watched Marta, Tabitha and Sandy laughing together and smiled. It was good to see everyone get on that way.
She wondered if Mike would have gotten over her by now or if he still thought about her? He must think about her sometimes, she thought. He'd fathered her child, for heavens' sakes. But she'd give Mike no more thought. She very rarely did these days...