Mom and Dad are waiting for me, and they’re both speechless. Mom looks like she’s about to cry. I see that they’ve got the camera out; I should have expected that. Bob comes down the stairs, and he looks at me. He seems confused. “Who’s she?” he asks Mom and Dad. Then he looks back at me again, really stares. “Holy crap.”
“Thank you, Bob,” I answer. I take it as a compliment, even if it really wasn’t. After that, nobody says anything for a couple of minutes, until the sound of a car rumbling up the driveway breaks the silence. Headlights shine in the window. Then the car goes quiet and the lights go out, and a moment later the doorbell rings. Dad opens the door, and Brian’s there, flowers in hand.
Roses, of course. Red, of course.
He sets eyes on me and his jaw drops. He keeps opening his mouth to try and say something, but nothing comes out. It’s all I can do to keep from running over to him. This moment is what I’ve been thinking about all week long.
I’m not sure how long we all stand there with nobody speaking or moving. Finally, Mom breaks the spell. “Brian, come over here, I want to get a picture of you two looking so nice.”
Brian comes over to me, and I put my arm around him as Mom fiddles with the camera. I realize this is the first time I’ve seen him properly dressed up. He’s very handsome in his dark blue suit and his yellow tie. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the only tie he owns.
Excerpt from James DiBenedetto's novel included in At Odds with Destiny
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