A NOTE BEFORE READING: I began sharing weekly excerpts from my novel, The Somebody Who, on June 26, 2010. If you want to begin at the beginning, go here. If you want to read the book in its entirety, head over to Amazon and purchase a copy. (There’s a button on the left that will take you there).
The waitress having cleared their plates, Evelyn and Judy are not yet ready to settle the bill and move on. The conversation has turned to lighter topics—the grandchildren (Judy’s and Patrick’s children). Their feats and challenges.
Evelyn loves hearing about Gretchen, Ricky, and Zoe. The stories are never couched in drama. Judy knows her kids are normal and that they are leading normal kids’ lives.
And when Judy has finished telling all the grandkid stories, she begins to tell Evelyn about her latest adventures selling real estate. The closing that she predicted the week before came to be. She expects a big check in the mail. And now, she’s the regular sitter at a Sunday “Open House.”
“Oh my God, Evelyn!” Judy blurts out, essentially interrupting herself. “I almost forgot! I overheard a really interesting conversation yesterday.”
“Yes. And let me paint the picture for you.”
“Please!” Evelyn says, already intrigued.
“Okay. So. I’m sitting in this mansion on Cedar Street,” Judy begins. “I mean, if I even get a piece of this deal, I don’t even want to think about it. Anyway, it’s an Open House, so, you know, people are coming and going all day. I’ve got the sign-up sheet on the dining room table. I’m there to answer questions. But, you know, most of the people who come through aren’t interested in buying. They’re just spending a Sunday walking through mansions. It’s free, you know?”
“People do that?”
“Oh, sure. All the time,” Judy says.
“Anyway,” she continues, “these two women—about your age—end up standing in the dining room, chatting, for forty-five minutes, easily.”
“Wait,” Evelyn says. “They’re standing in an Open House, among strangers, catching up?”
“I’m telling you, it happens all the time. So, anyway, these two women, I quickly learned, are Marge and Jane.”
“Did they introduce themselves?”
“Oh, God, no. They might have had to sign in if they’d done that. They’re just standing there, and I’m just listening.”
Evelyn shakes her head and wonders if the spinning in Miss Manners’ grave will ever register on some seismologist’s graph.
“Anyway,” Judy continues, “after a while, Marge says to Jane (quite enthusiastically, I might add) ‘Betty has started dating!’ ‘Betty?’ Jane says, ‘Do you mean Bill died?’ ‘No,’ Marge says. ‘Betty just felt she needed to start dating again.’”
“I’m lost,” Evelyn says, loving but also overwhelmed by her daughter-in-law’s energy. “Who’s Betty?”
“Betty is their friend.”
“Marge and Jane’s friend.”
“Okay,” Evelyn says, catching up. “And Bill?”
“Bill is Betty’s husband.”
“And! Bill has Alzheimer’s.”
“Okay,” Evelyn says, still wondering where this is going.
“So, Betty has started dating.”
“Ohh,” Evelyn says. “Okay. I get it. Well—good for Betty!”
“An interesting scenario, I thought,” says Judy.
“Mmm,” Evelyn agrees. “Interesting.”
* * *
to be continued on April 9th . In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.