A couple months after the mysterious woman came the mysterious phone call and its aftermath. It was July, and I had been invited over for a sleepover before we parted ways presumably only for the majority of August.
We had grand plans for that evening. We were going to go to the diner, which we never did since Lynnie and Dave didn’t eat meat. But since I was the one leaving, we decided to go anyway. There were a couple vegetarian salads on the menu. After dinner, we were going to get ice cream. Then we were going to make a fort and watch a movie.
We were standing in the hallway when the phone rang.
Lynnie answered it. At the time, she couldn’t find her purse, so she ran into each room checking for it. This was not a rare occurrence. She never seemed to remember where she put it down.
“Hello?” She asked, breathless and hunched, her elbows on the counter. “Yes?” She bolted straight up. “Of course. Yes. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
With that, she hung up. She looked to her right to find her purse. She picked it up and rushed past us, opening the door to Dave’s office, outside of which we waited.
“Dave, I’m taking the car to New York. I’ll be back in the morning.” She announced.
Sensing from Dave’s tone what was to come, Lynnie closed the door to his office, leaving us to hear only the garbled ravings of their argument. Ara wanted to press her ear to the door and listen, but Romaine and I stopped her.
“There’s a reason she closed the door, Ara.” Romaine said. “Maybe we should wait upstairs.”
We all decided that this was taking their privacy too far.
After what seemed like hours of Dave yelling and Lynnie yelling a little less loudly back, the door was thrown open.
“I have to go. I can’t leave him there alone.” Lynnie said as she emerged.
Dave said something incomprehensible, but angry. Lynnie turned back toward him and snapped in a way I’d never seen her before.
“You will not control my life. That’s what we got away from, remember?”
She left by the front door. Dave didn’t stop her. He walked out of his office moments later.
“So, shall we hit the diner?” He asked, holding his hands up. It was as if nothing had happened, except that he seemed too calm.
We nodded and headed off for dinner. We had a fine time with Dave. He let us get double scoops at the ice cream shop because he knew Lynnie would never approve. We wished she were with us anyway.
That night we watched The Little Mermaid, and Dave read the original Hans Christian Andersen tale before bed, although I learned, much later in life, that he changed the ending to fit the tone of the movie.
I awoke at seven the next morning. I tiptoed out of bed and around Ara and Romaine, who were still soundly asleep. At seven in the morning, all I wanted was a glass of water, so I went downstairs to fetch one. No one was there; Dave was likely still sleeping. I grabbed a glass from the cabinet and poured one myself. When I had finished, I sat down at the kitchen table and waited.
At eight, the front door opened slowly and softly. I ran into the hallway, knowing it was Lynnie. She stood on the balls of her feet, careful not to put down her heels, and clutched the door, trying to make as little noise as possible. She waved when she saw me.
“Anyone else awake?” She asked.
I shook my head.
“I’ll be back down in a minute.”
She hurried up the stairs. She wasn’t really a minute, because I spent a half hour watching the minute hand make its way around the clock. When she returned, both Dave and Romaine were with her.
“Who wants breakfast?” She asked.
Romaine and I nearly bounced out of our seats. Dave just sat down. Lynnie began chopping fruit. She didn’t attempt to make conversation. Neither adult brought up the previous night. I knew Romaine worried. Everything seemed like the calm before the storm.
When my mother came to pick me up later that afternoon, Lynnie hugged me tight. It was supposed to be the last time I saw them before vacation. Instead, Lynnie called the next morning and begged my mother to let me come over for just a little bit.
“Adieu, chérie,” she said.
I knew that it meant “goodbye” so I said “goodbye” back. It was like a death.