The Bandbox Hat
Previously: SarahJane was given the heave-ho from the Date My Son! reality dating show. She spent a couple of days depressed. Her niece April called and asked to come visit SarahJane in Glendale. SarahJane met her brother in Grapevine to pick up April. The also ran into Jesse who was heading back to Pasadena after a Rosedale visit. He asked if he could call SarahJane. She agreed.
My apartment door had just clicked shut behind me and April when my phone rang.
“Where’s the bathroom, Auntie SJ?” April hopped from foot to foot looking from one end of the apartment to the other.
“Through that hall.” I pointed her in the right direction and snagged the phone from my purse. “Hello.”
“I couldn’t wait.”
“I really want to talk to you, SarahJane. Can I come over?”
The chipped corner of my laminate kitchen corner became ultra-interesting. I had to stick my hand in my pocket to keep from chipping at it. “I don’t know, Jesse. I just got home. April’s here.”
“I’m not even home yet. I can swing by for a minute.”
“I don’t know.”
“I’ll bring dinner. Tacos?”
“No fair, you know I can’t say no to Mexican.”
“I’ll be there in ten.”
I disconnected and tossed the phone onto the faded chintz sofa. “That man…”
“What man?” April popped out of the bathroom.
“Jesse’s bringing dinner.” I pulled plates and glasses from the cupboard and pointed at the flatware drawer. “Can you get some knives and forks?”
April and I set the table. She chattered the whole time about how much fun we were going to have and could I fix kuchen for her in the morning. I agreed to that and I’m pretty sure I also said okay to a trip to Disneyland before I tuned into her words.
“Mom said that my being here is going to cramp your style, Auntie SJ. What’s your style? How can I cramp it?” Her brow furrowed and she bit her lower lip.
I tossed a stack of napkins on the table and sank onto the nearest chair. Anna had to get in her digs at me, I got that, but to use her daughter to deliver her spiteful messages just curdled my soul. “Oh, sweetie, trust me, I don’t have a style and even if I did, you wouldn’t cramp it. I love having you visit. You give me style.”
A tremulous smile inched across her lips. “Really? ‘cause it sounded like a bad thing.”
“I promise you, you’re the best roommate I could ever want.”
A knock at the door broke up the conversation and April scampered over to let Jesse in. “What’d you bring us?” she asked.
“Ernesto’s tacos and burritos. The best in town.” He set three Styrofoam boxes on the table. “Who’s hungry?”
“I am!” April slid into a chair and wiggled.
“Me, too.” I flashed Jesse a smile of welcome.
We passed around the food and I asked Jesse to say the blessing. We ate and chatted, with Jesse making me laugh and April studied us like we were her latest science project.
After dinner I passed out ice-cream sandwiches. I’d licked the last bit of chocolate goo from my fingers when April yawned.
“Bed time, missy.” I gathered up the paper wrappers and tossed them into the trash. “Go brush your teeth and get into my bed. I’ll come tuck you in.”
April nodded and left the table.
Jesse turned to me. “This is nice.”
I had to agree. “I missed you.” The words popped out before I could second-guess them or myself. It was true. He used to be my best friend. I missed his crazy jokes and how he sighed before putting on his seatbelt. I missed the dimple in his chin.
He reached for my hand. “So … I need to explain some things. Why I left.”
“Rachael.” I spoke the name that had hovered between us all night.
He nodded. “It’s time to tell you everything.”