The one good thing about the horrible news was that Beatrice’s mother was distracted. This gave Beatrice the chance to sneak out on Wednesday to have her usual dinner with her usual date.
Beatrice left her apartment at 6:45, tiptoeing past her mother, who was doing nude yoga in the living room (Beatrice made a mental note to deep clean the carpet). She parked her car in space 11 at 6:57 and sat down at the usual table at 6:59. At exactly 7:00, he sat down across from her.
They placed their standard orders and began to discuss the beautifully mundane aspects of their lives. Beatrice felt at peace. For the first time in days, she felt comfortable, safe and secure in what remained of her routine. But all through dinner, she had the feeling that she couldn’t hold it in much longer, she had to tell him. Just as they were finishing up their meals, she gathered up to courage to be honest with him.
“Arthur, I so enjoy your company, and our time together,” she started, “but there’s something important I need to tell you. And I’m afraid it might interrupt our routine.”
“Beatrice, if it’s that important, it’s worth interrupting our routine” he replied.
Beatrice considered this for a moment. She thought it was an odd thing for Arthur to say, but supposed he was correct. Before she knew it, she was rambling through her entire life story, from her crazy mother to her even crazier cousins.
“…Growing up with them was horrible. No matter what anyone did or said, they managed to ruin it. The only relief anyone got was when the cousins would leave for a little while. Usually it was only for a week or so, but once they were gone for six months.”
Beatrice paused to breath, surprised by her own openness, and how good it was to get this all off her chest. She looked over at Arthur, who looked mildly confused.
“But Beatrice, where did they go?” he asked, puzzled.
“I don’t know. And to be completely honest, I never asked. I don’t think anyone did. Everyone was just grateful anytime they left, “ Beatrice replied. “The last time they left, they left for good. I woke up one morning and they were gone. Their house was empty, there wasn’t even a crumb left on the floor. Everyone was so grateful, no one bothered to ask where they’d gone. But now they’re back, and I don’t’ know what to think.”
Beatrice left dinner feeling relieved. She had told Arthur everything, and he hadn’t run away. In fact, if Beatrice hadn’t been so overjoyed by Arthur’s reaction, she may have noticed that not only had he not run away, he hadn’t even looked surprised. If Beatrice had really been paying attention, she may have noticed that when Arthur got into his car, he hadn’t left right away. She would have seen him sitting in his car, talking on the phone. But Beatrice wasn’t paying attention, because if she was, she would have known exactly what was coming next.