Are you okay? my boss, Lydia, asked. She was looking at me with a concerned look, her wire-rimmed glasses balancing at the end of her nose. Lydia was a great boss. Smart as a whip, patient, and a great advocate for our department to receive the funding and training we needed to perform. I loved working for her. But we never discussed our personal lives. Ever. Aside from a simple How was your weekend? And I didn’t plan to start now. You seem distracted today, she said.
Surprise me, she said.Cooper hated that line. My smug smile was back.
Nope. Your taste buds are your own, he said.She let out a short sigh, then asked the worker, What’s your favorite?I don’t know. I like the cheesecake shake.
Okay, I’ll try that one.He rang us up, and we went to look for a table. All the ones inside were taken, so we were forced outside to the circular metal ones while we waited for our shakes to be made.
Iris slid her chair as close as possible to Cooper, and he put his arm around her. Really? This was my celebration, but suddenly it felt more like I was the third wheel on one of their dates. I tried not to let it dampen my spirits. If Iris was going to be around more, I needed to make a better effort to get to know her.
What do you like to do? I asked.Mark, what the hell is going on? Gabby’s voice is tight and rigid. There is no bend in it, no patience.
Hannah, he pleads.OK, I say, and I start wheeling myself away.
No! Gabby says, losing her patience. She can barely move herself from place to place. Don’t ask her to leave the room.It’s fine, really, I say, but just as I say it, Mark blurts it out.