What could have possibly happened in the ten minutes it took her to get from Arthur’s apartment to hers? Sure they had been distracted by Beatrice’s mind blips, but anything major going on with the cousins would have been brought to Arthur’s attention immediately. Plus, the cousins had been gone for at least an hour prior to Beatrice and Arthur’s awkward good bye outside his apartment.
“Mother, I have been watching you and our cousins all night. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary – for them at least. What are you talking about?”
Pepe appeared from around the corner, slinking with his tail between his legs to Beatrice’s mother, whose hair, though normally eccentric, looked as though she had been grasping and tugging fistfuls of it at random. She lapsed into sobs burying her head in the tie-dye throw pillow she recently added to Beatrice’s muted decor.
Beatrice was taken aback; her mother was always expressive, but extremely positive. She had never seen her mom break down. What does a child do the first time she truly sees her parent break down? Feeling as though time stopped, Beatrice watched her mother in shock, but suddenly exploded into a fury of motion.
“Mom,” she whispered moving to the couch and putting her arm around her mother, “Sit up. You are worrying poor, little Pepe.” Beatrice scooped Pepe up and sat him on her mother’s lap, where he started lapping the tears off her face and his whole body wiggled with every wag of his tail. “Look at him trying to take care of you,” Beatrice cooed, “I am going to make you some tea. Your favorite is white mango with a sprinkle of paprika, right?”
As Beatrice walked to the kitchen she could see her mother was still far from her usual self, but was gradually letting go of the horrible tie-dye pillow, and she heard a reluctant giggle escape due to Pepe’s tickling tongue.
“I have so much to tell you about Arthur!” Beatrice called from the kitchen, hoping to distract her mother by telling her of their awkward but emotionally stirring goodbye. She relayed the story from the kitchen, explaining how Arthur walked her out, and instead of his usual peck on the cheek, he leaned in for a fireworks inducing kiss, and how reluctant he was when she started to pull away. And finally, how he had returned to his all business manner, with a startled look on his face.
“It was both exhilarating and odd,” Beatrice mused as she handed her mother a fragrant mug. She had done the same things her mother did for her as a child: favorite drink, distracting story, a teddy bear, or in her mother’s case, Pepe.
“Thank you, Birdie,” her mother sighed, “but it is awful. Look at what Gerald gave me when he left; he didn’t even say anything, just his evil smirk and walked out the door.”
Beatrice took the crumpled page, opened it, and read, “This time you can’t be left behind.”
– M.R. Gavin