I zipped my jacket up to the top of my neck, which still didn’t
keep the frigid air from whipping through my body. The sun
hadn’t come out in two weeks, and I was beginning to wonder if
we’d ever see it again. As I cursed myself for parking so far away
from the bank, a handsome man wearing a New York Yankees
baseball cap was walking toward me. His face was lit up by a
smile. A smile so warm that it looked as if it rested on his face
even if no one was around. As he got closer, the sun suddenly
peeked out from behind a cloud. Was the universe trying to tell
me something? Could this be the man for me? Would this be the
day that something exciting finally happened? My heart began to
race, and I saw my brand-new life in front of me. This man and
I would spend all our time together, laughing, antique shopping,
and having amazing sex. It would’ve all been perfect. . . .
If I were not already married.
At 5:55, I rolled out of bed and caught my reflection in the
mirror above my dresser. That mirror was my enemy. It
pointed out all the new wrinkles that had been born on my face
while I slept. I was not taking to the idea of aging gracefully . . .
gracefully. The room was lit only by the glow of the clock. Jim was
happily snoring and was no closer to waking up than our basset
hound, Theo. I had five minutes before I had to get Gia up for
school. She was going to be just as happy to hear my voice as I
had been to hear my mother’s when I was a teenager. My feet
jumped as they touched the cold, hard wood. Where the heck
did I put my slippers? I walked through the dark room, feeling
my way along the furniture. I made it past the footboard on the
bed, and just when I thought I was safe, I stubbed my toe on the
dresser. Damn those slippers! I bet they were laughing at me.
“Gia, it’s time to get up,” I called through the pain. I didn’t
feel bad yelling when Jim was still asleep; he could sleep through
anything. Hopefully no one would ever break into the house and
try to stab me in our bed. After a moment, teenage mumbling echoed
down the hall as sleep escaped her seventeen-year-old body.
I shed my pajamas and wondered how the heck thirteen-year-old me
had morphed into the body of a forty-five-year-old woman. Like
most women, I’d resigned myself to the fact that it was out of
my control. Or was it? If I started going to the gym again, I
could tone up my floppy belly, my sagging underarms, and my
ass that was creasing below my thighs. As I got in the shower,
I decided to either give it a great deal of thought or push it out
of my mind. I stood under the warm spray, letting it soothe and
care for me. I would happily stay here forever.
“Mom,” Gia called as she charged into the bathroom as if
she’d been left out of something. Forever was not living up to its
reputation. I turned off the water, grabbed my robe off the floor,
and wrapped my wet hair in a terry-cloth turban. Her five-foot,
six-inch lanky frame dwarfed my five-foot-two compact self.
“What’s the weather like today?” She was wearing a silk shirt
that barely hid the fact that she hadn’t put pants on.
“We live in Connecticut and it’s winter. What do you think
the weather’s like?” I asked.
“It’s winter right now, but at some point, it’ll be spring.”
“You’ll get a warning. Spring doesn’t really ‘spring.’”
“Mom, you’re so funny.”
“You need to finish getting dressed. The last time I checked,
your school required pants,” I said. She rolled her eyes. Eyes
I would’ve killed for. She had lush lashes that curled upward,
except for a few in the corner that curled down. At my age, my
lashes were either falling out or turning gray. Long eyelashes
were wasted on the young.
When she ran off, I threw on a pair of mom jeans and a white
hoodie and pulled my wet hair into a pink ponytail holder. Some-
day I’d find the motivation to update my wardrobe. Before making
Gia breakfast, I tried to wake Jim up. Not because I needed him
for anything, but because it bugged me that he could sleep through
all the commotion. I coughed loudly, but he didn’t move. I faked a
belly laugh; still nothing. I gave up and went downstairs.
Fifteen minutes later, I was sitting across from Gia, enjoy-
ing a cup of coffee while she scarfed down a bagel with cream
cheese. She pushed a paper across the table, not noticing the dab
of cream cheese on its corner. “Can you sign this so I can get out of
third period and go see my college counselor?”
“If I don’t sign, would you have to skip college and live with
me forever?” The phone started ringing, but I ignored it.
“Not going to happen. I just hope I get into UCLA. I want
to go to California, where it doesn’t snow and there’s sunshine
twenty-four hours a day.”
“If you really believe that, I don’t have to worry that you’ll
actually get in.”
“That sounds like something Dad would say.”
“You were blessed with parents with a great sense of humor.”
“I meant it’s annoying that you both make the same bad
jokes.” She wiped the cream cheese off the paper and then licked
it off her fingers. The phone rang again, but after two rings the
person hung up. “Can you just sign this?” Gia asked, holding
out a pen.
“Fine.” I took the pen and signed. “You can’t fault me for
loving you so much that I don’t want you to leave.”
“Do you love me enough to let me stay home from school
“Nope, that’s where my love draws the line.”
She took the pen back from me and stuffed it in her backpack;
then she looked up at the clock on the microwave. “I gotta go.”
She let me kiss her goodbye, and I followed her to the front door.
I watched as she walked across what would be our grass if it weren’t
completely covered in fresh snow. Her heavy backpack weighed her
down, causing her to stride awkwardly. As she crossed onto the sidewalk,
she dropped her lunch, and in one fell swoop, picked it up. I yearned for
the little girl who always turned back, wanting to see me wave one last
time, but this young woman didn’t give me a second thought.
When I quit my job seventeen and a half years ago to stay
home and raise her, I told myself publishing would have to
wait. I was sure I’d go back to my editing job when Gia entered
kindergarten, but she was such an anxious kid that I needed to
be here when she got home from school. And now seventeen
years had flown by, and in a short time she’d be gone, and I was
going to be alone.
I closed the front door because my fingers were getting
numb, but I continued to watch her out the window. When she got to
our corner, she walked toward a boy who was leaning against a black
Honda Civic that was parked at the curb. I assumed it was her new
boyfriend, Jason, although she still hadn’t let me meet him. His dirty
blond hair was shaved on the sides and slicked up and over with gel.
The style teenage boys wore so they could avoid getting haircuts
very often. I didn’t know why he had to drive her when we lived only
three blocks from school. Well, I did know, but I didn’t want to think
about it. I opened the door to get a better look at him, when he began
tapping on his horn. I’d hoped a daughter of mine wouldn’t put
up with that kind of behavior, but she smiled at him and got in
the car. I could tell he was the same kind of boy I used to go for
in high school. The kind that was full of himself. The kind that
always broke my heart.
I went back upstairs, and as usual Gia hadn’t bothered to
close her bedroom door. Her room was its usual mess, her wicker
hamper lying in the corner on its side. Half her clothes were hanging
from the rim, the other half scattered on the floor surrounding it. Was it
really that difficult to put dirty clothes in a hamper?
When she was four, we used to play a game together to keep her
room neat. Barney the dinosaur has not been given enough credit
for all the good he did in my house. The next thing I knew, I was singing,
“clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere, clean up, clean up, everybody
do your share.” After I finished my solo, I realized I’d picked up all her
laundry and was now carrying it downstairs. I’d read the books,
I’d heard the experts. I knew I should’ve left it and had her do
it herself, but those experts weren’t coming to my house and
listening to her whine that she had no clean clothes.
I was halfway down the stairs, when Jim called out from the
kitchen, “Maggie, have you seen my keys?” I stayed put, hoping
he’d find them, although I knew he wouldn’t. This was a dance
we’d been doing for the past nineteen years. The keys were prob-
ably on the kitchen counter under the huge pile of Psychology
Today magazines. The magazines he never had time to read. The
magazines I kept quietly throwing out when he wasn’t looking.
I heard him tossing things around, and I knew in his haste he
was dumping stuff everywhere. I had to find his keys before the
hurricane moved from the kitchen to the living room.
When I walked into the kitchen, Jim looked at me hope-
fully, as if I’d been sent from the Promised Land to help him. “I
can’t find my keys, and I have a client coming in early,” he said,
pushing his bangs off his forehead. I sighed as he started looking
in the appliances. Did he really think they’d be in the toaster
oven? I glanced at the hook near our back door that we’d put in
for this exact purpose, but his keys weren’t there. I moved the pile
of magazines and handed him his keys. “Thanks,” he said, letting out
a huge breath.
“Do you want some coffee before you lose the coffee pot
too?” I asked.
“It’s not nice to make fun of an old guy,” he said.
I handed him a cup of coffee and a bagel. He tucked a napkin
into the top of his red-striped polo like a bib so he wouldn’t get
cream cheese on it. Jim’s hair had almost no gray in it, which
pissed me off. Although today I saw a few white hairs peeking
through the stubble on his face, which gave me a little satisfaction.
“I forgot to tell you I can’t go to the Marksons’ party next
Saturday,” he said. “I made an appointment with a new client.”
“On a Saturday evening?”
“It was the only time he could come in. You can go to the
“Forget it. I’ll skip it.” I got myself a bagel and sat down to
have breakfast with him when his cell phone rang. His ringtone
was “Ride of the Valkyries” from his favorite scene in Apocalypse
Now. I hoped he wouldn’t answer and we could have breakfast
together, but that wasn’t the case.
“Hello. . . .” He listened a moment. “Okay, try to calm down.
Just tell me what’s going on. . . . I know you think she’s stalking
you, but she’s your mother, she’s eighty-five, and she’s in a wheel-
chair. You’ll be safe until our appointment at nine.” He hit the
end call button and turned to me.
“What’re you up to today?” He asked this as if I might
be hiding some secret, exciting life and today might be a new
adventure. Part of me wanted to say I was going to Vegas to lose
all our money and start a prostitution ring, but I figured he’d
just ask me to pick up his favorite cookies on my way home.
“I’m going to Brooklawn this morning.” How could he not
remember that I go visit my dad at his assisted living facility
“Oh yeah, sorry. I’ve been a little distracted.”
"What’s going on?”
“It’s work stuff.” He put his dish on the sink and left his mug
on the table, as if he’d forgotten we had a dishwasher.
“I know, but it makes me feel bad when you shut me out.
For a while now it’s seemed like your mind is somewhere else,
and I keep bringing it up, but nothing changes.”
“You’re right. I’ll try harder, I promise.”
“Okay,” I said, wondering if this time he’d hear what I was
Jim picked up his briefcase and went to the hall closet to get
his coat. As he put on his gloves, I said, “Gia’s not going to be
home tonight. Do you want to try that new gastropub?”
“I don’t know. I might be too tired.” He walked toward the
door and put his hand on the knob.
“Has Gia mentioned her new boyfriend to you? I don’t think
I like him,” I said, putting his mug to my lips and drinking the
last drop of his coffee. Jim’s shoulders drooped as he realized his
great escape was going to be held up.
“Can we talk about this later?” he asked.
“Why can’t we talk about it now?”
“I don’t want to get stressed out.”
“I’m stressed. I thought we could share it.”
“You know I don’t like dealing with this kind of stuff before
I go to work.”
As a psychologist, Jim listened to his patients and helped
them solve their problems, yet I was often left to deal with ours
by myself. He’d come home to a place where our problems had
been magically fixed.
He kissed me on the lips lightly, so lightly I felt a brush of
air and the slight hint of a cinnamon raisin bagel on his breath.
He opened the door to the garage and called over his shoulder,
“Love you? Where’s the I ?” I said.
“Okay. Love, I.” He was delighted by his comeback.
“Get out of here, before I kill you,” I said.
I found myself twirling my wedding ring around and around;
it had been on my finger for so many years. Sometimes it was
hard to remember my life before marriage, when the biggest
decision I had to make in the morning was whether to have a
Café Americano or an iced green tea before picking out a cute
outfit and heading to my job as a senior editor at Shier and Boggs
publishing. My best friend, Ellen, still worked there and got to
have deep conversations with interesting people, and I got to
scrub melted Rocky Road ice cream off my counters.
I raised the shades in my kitchen. The morning light danced
in the room as it reflected off the snow. I had lived in Shelton,
Connecticut, my whole life. When I was a kid, there were about
twenty-seven thousand people, and now there were more like
forty-one thousand. Our town had gone from mom-and-pop
shops to Targets, Staples, and Starbucks, although we still had
a few quaint cafés and a lake where everyone fed the ducks. We
also had one independent bookstore, Written Words, which had
been here since I was a kid. When Gia was four, I took her there
to hear a man in a Sammy the Whale costume read stories. She
was so scared of the guy—and all whales for that matter—that
when her grandmother gave her a toy stuffed whale, she freaked
out. Needless to say, she’s never been to SeaWorld.
Shelton was only forty minutes from a big city, yet our house
backed up to the woods, woods that seemed to go on forever.
When I looked out my back door, it often felt as if I was alone
in nature. It was a feeling of peace yet also loneliness. I marveled
at how the tall, barren trees covered in snow would bend down
ever so slightly. And the ground free of footprints, except for the
occasional raccoon that had run across the fresh powder to dump
over the garbage can and spread wrappers from the chocolate
that I denied eating. How I longed to leave my own footprints
in the snowy woods. They were so inviting. Sometimes I thought
about walking out my back door through the leafless trees. I
would disappear for a while. Not forever, but at least a month.
I wondered how long it would be before Jim or Gia noticed I
was gone. Would it be today? Tomorrow? The next day? Would
they notice when they got hungry and I wasn’t there to get them
dinner? Would they miss me?
The phone rang again, and I knew I couldn’t keep ignoring
it. “Hi, Mom,” I said.
“How did you know it was me?”
“We’ve talked about this. Your number comes up on my
caller ID.” I wanted to say no one else would call repeatedly this
early in the morning. How many weekends did she wake up my
“Why didn’t you answer the other two times I called?”
“I was busy getting Gia out the door.”
Mom was like the Energizer Bunny, up early and always
moving. When she was younger, she never needed to diet; her
hyperactivity kept her in shape. She was a young seventy-five-
year-old, and only the creases in her hands revealed her age.
“I wanted to tell you I bought the cutest dress yesterday,” she said.
“That’s nice.” I began tossing moldy strawberries from the
fridge into the trash.
“And I wore it to lunch with Cayla and Jill.”
“They loved it. Said I looked ten years younger.”
As I moved on to the expired yogurt, she began describing
the new restaurant they had gone to. I moved from oohing and
ahing into uh-huh mode. Mom went on to tell me about every
dish she and her friends tried and how the chef came to their
table and told them he had just gotten out of the hospital after
a gallbladder attack. When she started talking about the waiter’s
sister, I closed the fridge and told her I had to go, I had a lot to
do. She said she understood and didn’t want to keep me.
As my finger hovered over the End Call button, she asked,
“When was the last time you talked to your brother?”
“I don’t know.”
“You should talk to him more. You’re family.”
“I really don’t want to discuss this.”
“Fine, but someday it’ll just be the two of you. So, how’s my
granddaughter?” she asked.
“She has a boyfriend.”
“I’m not sure this guy has the best manners.”
“I remember the boys you went out with in high school. Talk
about rude. There was that one boy who’d come over to pick you
up, and he’d never even say hello to us. What was his name?” I
knew exactly who she meant, but I shook my head, even though
she couldn’t see me. “When you were young you were a terrible
judge of character.” I wanted to drop the phone down the garbage
disposal, but instead I took a swig of hot coffee directly
from the pot, hoping it would burn my mouth so badly I couldn’t
blurt out the twenty curse words I was thinking. “Your father
kept saying you were a smart girl and you’d be fine. Thank God
you found Jim when you did. He really straightened you out.”
“I really have to go, Mom.”
“Are you sure? We’re having such a nice chat.”
I had never been so sure of anything. “Dad’s expecting me.
After I’d hung up, the sound of the ticking clock on the
mantel became so loud it was all I could hear, that and my mother’s
voice in my head. Over the years, I’d tried to ignore it, or pretend it
didn’t affect me, but it did. Even at my age the things
she said made me question my judgment, so I tried to avoid her.
I got in my car and turned the volume on the radio up full
blast to drown out the noise in my head. After ten minutes and
a handful of judgmental stares, I arrived at Brooklawn.
With its celadon siding, white columns of ledger stone, and
circular driveway, it looked more like a quaint hotel than an assisted
living facility. An American flag and a Connecticut state flag
blew in unison. Even though I’d been coming here at least once
a week for the last nine months, every time I walked through
the doors, a feeling of melancholy washed over me. I wanted to
go back fifteen years to when my dad was a vibrant and active
prosecutor with no health issues.
I signed in and then made my way through old people with
walkers trying to mow me down. I saw Julia, my favorite nurse,
walking toward me. Even though she was in her mid-thirties and
had a thick blue streak in her hair, I wished she were my mother.
She’d comforted me when I cried the first time I saw my dad
alone in his room, and she’d stood up for me when one of the
doctors caught me sneaking our dog, Theo, in to see him.
I waited while Julia stopped to help an elderly woman who
had her shirt on backward. She had the woman raise her arms
over her head as she turned the shirt around, being very careful
to keep it pulled down so the woman could maintain her dignity.
As the woman walked away, Julia waved me over.
“Hi, Maggie. I know you’re here to see your dad, but can I
ask a favor?”
“Of course,” I said.
“Mrs. Cryer needs someone to listen to her news report.
Could you drop in on her?”
“No problem,” I said. I had become familiar with many of
the residents. Mrs. Cryer was ninety-six and convinced she was
Walter Cronkite. She liked to report the news every morning . . .
the news from 1962.
Julia went back to work. As I walked down the long hall,
the smell of bleach and cleanser permeated my nostrils. Dad
had a private room at the end of the hall, with a hospital bed,
a dresser, a well-worn navy club chair, and a side table. On the
side table was a Victorian lamp, the one Mom kept bringing
over to my house, even though I kept saying I didn’t want it.
On the dresser were three pictures: one of Mom and Dad on
their honeymoon, where Dad’s wearing a sombrero and Mom’s
laughing hysterically; one of Jim and me and Gia in New
York City; and one from my childhood of Jerry and me, where
Jerry’s smirking at the camera. Mom thought she was only
going to be able to have one child, so she told anyone who’d
listen about her miracle baby boy. Jerry still smirks whenever
you take a picture of him; he took that miracle thing too much
to heart. Jerry and I were six years apart, and he was stubborn,
meticulous, and a loner, which also explained why as an adult
he could rarely maintain a relationship with a woman for more
than a few months.
I kissed my fingers and touched the mezuzah that Mom
had put up on Dad’s door. A mezuzah is a Jewish symbol that
signifies God’s presence. Dad wasn’t religious, but he believed in
traditions, so every home he’d lived in since he was born had one.
He was wearing charcoal gray sweatpants and a navy
T-shirt that said, A GOOD LAWYER KNOWS THE LAW . . .
A GREAT LAWYER KNOWS THE JUDGE. His silver hair
was combed far enough back to reveal a very high forehead. A
forehead I’d inherited, which was why I always wore bangs.
Dad was sitting in his club chair intently focused on the television.
Pat Sajak of Wheel of Fortune was calling out letters, and a
professorial-looking man was trying desperately to solve the
puzzle. “A Blast from the Past,” I called out as I came up behind
him, kissing him on the cheek.
“Show-off,” he said. When I was growing up, Dad and I
watched Wheel of Fortune together almost every night. Mom nor
Jerry ever tried to join us. Mom was usually in the back room
sewing or reading a book, and Jerry was on his Atari. I’m not sure
if that was their choice or ours. During the commercials, we’d
talk about my classes, which boys I had crushes on, and whether
Whitney Huston or Madonna had a better voice.
“How’s my favorite daughter?” he asked.
“I’m your only daughter.”
“That you know of.”
“Very funny.” He was slumped to one side of the chair, so I
reached my hands behind his lower back and pulled him up so
he sat straight. Or as straight as I could get him with him being
Dad had Parkinson’s disease, so sitting upright
wasn’t easy. He gazed blankly into the distance while I pulled
him up and didn’t say a word. I wondered if he was embarrassed
that he couldn’t control his own body well.
“Hey, you want me to sneak you in a chili dog next time
I come?” I asked. His face looked a little thinner than the last
time I was here.
“Sure, but don’t tell your mother. She likes me to eat healthy.”
I promised to keep my mouth shut, which was easy because
when I talked to my mother, she did most of the talking anyway.
I told him that Julia had asked me to go see Mrs. Cryer for a
“Mrs. Cryer’s loony,” Dad said. “In the dining room the other
day, she told me the Boston Strangler was on the loose and
headed for my room. I told her I’d just hit him with my walker,
and she said I’d do more damage with an AK-47.” He laughed at
his own joke, but the laugh caught in his throat, and he started
coughing. I looked around the room for a cup of water, which
I found on a side table, and held the straw up to his lips. In the
last few months, his shaking had made it harder for him to hold
a cup himself. I hated seeing my strong dad reduced to needing
help with such a simple task.
Mom and Dad didn’t tell me at first that he’d been diagnosed
with Parkinson’s, because they knew I’d worry. Then, a year ago,
he started falling a lot, and one day when he fell in the kitchen,
Mom couldn’t get him up by herself. She called Jerry, and Jerry
called Jim and me. When we got to their house, they confessed
how often Dad had been falling. We got them to agree that they
needed help. I wanted them to hire someone to come into the
house, but Dad refused. They couldn’t afford twenty-four-hour
help, and Dad didn’t want my mother to be his caretaker. He saw
what it had done to his own mother when she took care of his
father for the last five years of his life. His mother ended up an
angry, bitter woman who resented his father. Dad never wanted
that for my mother, so we moved him into Brooklawn, and Mom
spent almost every afternoon with him. I never asked her what
it was like to sleep alone after all those years.
I kissed Dad on his cheek and told him I’d be back soon,
although I didn’t get back to him as quickly as I wanted. After
listening to Mrs. Cryer go on and on, I was cornered by another
woman who needed help getting a knot out of her yarn so she
could finish her great-granddaughter’s sweater. When I finally
got the knot out, she pointed out another one. After twenty
minutes of new knots popping up, I figured out that she was
tangling them purposely so I would stay and talk to her. Finally,
she fell asleep, and I snuck away. The number of forgotten seniors
here made my heart ache and scared the hell out of me. Would
I be left all alone in a facility someday? Would Gia ever come
see me? When Dad moved to Brooklawn, I told Jim that if I
got to the point of having to go into any type of nursing home,
he should leave a large quantity of sleeping pills on the counter
and go out for the day. He said if I could get to the counter by
myself, I probably didn’t need a nursing home to begin with. I
thanked him profusely for feeling my pain and knowing what
I needed to hear.
When I finally got back to Dad’s room, a nurse was helping
him steady himself on his walker so he could go to the dining
room for lunch. I felt bad that I’d been away for so long, but Dad
was happy to see me again and asked me to join him for lunch.
He loved showing me off. I told the nurse I’d take over and
made sure he was steady on his walker before we began a very
slow progress toward the dining room. For every step I took, he
shuffled two while I waited.
I spent an hour eating a lunch of baked cod amandine, sweet
potatoes, and dry green beans and listening to a medley of the
elderly telling me how adorable I was. Nothing lifts your spirits
more than feeling as if you’re a teenager when you’re over forty.
I settled Dad back in his room and told him I was going to
“Your mom said you haven’t come by the house lately,” he said.
“I’ve been busy, but I’ll try to get over there.”
Dad was always the peacemaker with my mom and me, but
he should’ve been more concerned about his relationship with
Jerry. Dad had trouble connecting with him, so he put all his
fatherly efforts into me, which didn’t help the situation. Mom felt
bad, so she had tried to become both mother and father to Jerry.
A half hour later, I was turning down my block when I realized I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to do any more laundry. I didn’t want to wash any more dishes. Or walk the dog. Or cook dinner. Since Gia started her senior year, and would be leaving for college soon, I’d been struggling with how I was going to find a new purpose to my life. There were plenty of people who would’ve been happy to not have to go to a job every day, but right now I wasn’t one of them. If I had a job, after she left, I’d have a place where I could still feel important. At forty-five, I was insecure, and I worried whether I’d ever get back into the work force, and at the same time, wondered if I really wanted to. My mixed-up thoughts depressed me. And then I remembered something that made my day even worse. I’d offered to volunteer at Gia’s school to set up for Winter Carnival. Oh, yay, I’d get to be with moms who lived to boss people around.
As I turned the car around and headed to her school, I drove past a Dunkin’ Donuts. If I were going to get through the rest of this day, I needed a sugar fix, and a donut would make me so much happier right now. Besides, I was already late, so what were a few more minutes? Ten minutes later, I walked out with a powdered sugar donut in my mouth and two glazed ones in a bag.
The first thing I saw when I walked into the gym was grown women standing in groups like high school cliques. In the center of the room were the high-powered moms who were doctors and lawyers. They were handing out clipboards to the rest of us peons. When Gia started kindergarten, I’d tried to make small talk with them, but they snubbed me when they found out I didn’t “work” for a living. They had no idea how hard I worked, and I resented them and felt inferior at the same time. The thought of spending the afternoon with these women made me so anxious that I was already sweating through my shirt.
My friend Heather was standing in a corner with her head bowed over her phone as if she were doing something very important. She hated these things as much as I did. “Hey,” I said.
“Shh, I’ve been here ten minutes and they haven’t noticed me yet,” she said. I don’t know how they could have missed her. She had blond spiky hair and was wearing pink cowboy boots.
Amy, a five-foot-ten model-looking pediatrician, approached us. “Can you go help with the decorations?” she said to Heather, who shot me a look. Then she handed me a bunch of clipboards. “And you get to work on the silent auction.” She said this as if I’d won the lottery. As Heather and I went to do our slave labor, Amy returned to her friends to sip coffee.
For the next half hour, I got to decide opening bids on luxury items. There was an aromatherapy session at a spa, which I thought about bidding on until I realized it was for a dog spa, and Theo was not the pampering type. There was also a basket filled with David Spade movies, and a surgical tummy tuck with a belly button reconstruction. Finally, something I could’ve used, but there was no way I was putting my real name down on that one. I’d volunteered for three hours, but after two, I’d hit my limit.
I walked over to where Heather was hanging up streamers. “You want to get out of here?” I whispered.
“They’re not going to just let us leave. We have to come up with a good excuse,” she whispered back.
“I’ll say my mother needs me to take her to the doctor,” I said.
“That’s good. I’ll say my kid’s throwing up in the school bathroom.”
Heather put down the streamers, and we loudly made our excuses to the coffee klatch. No one said anything or even acknowledged we were leaving, which was probably for the best, since when we got into the corridor, I noticed I was still holding three clipboards.