“My God Mitchell, what has it been 6? 7 years? You’re all grown up now!” April said. “Not that it isn’t great to see you but what on Earth are you doing here? Last I heard you and your parents were soaking up the California sunshine” she said.
“It’s complicated Mrs. P.,” he said. “My parents split up last year. I’ve been traveling back and forth between them, but it finally dawned on me how unhappy I’ve been. When I started thinking about, I realized that the happiest days of my life were spent right here, in your home, in this neighborhood. I’ve transferred to the college here to be closer to the people that I miss. I move into my dorm in a few weeks.”
As he spoke, it dawned on her what he was asking between the lines. She’d noticed his little black VW bug, filled with boxes and bags. She knew he was going to ask if he could stay, and that her answer, was yes.
“Mitchell I’m so sorry to hear about your parents. In all the years we were friends, I always thought they had a great relationship. I didn’t know.” Her voice trailed off as Mitchell began to let her in on truths about a woman she had once called her best friend.
“Mrs. P., where do I start? How do I begin? You never really knew my parents, no one did. They were so good at wearing the mask, that no one ever saw what lay underneath.” he said.
April heard what he was saying, her brain, however, fought the news. Julia, her Julia, an alcoholic? Pat, abusive? It couldn’t be. She had known them for years. Barbecues on the 4th of July on the patio lawn, Sunday church services, bake sales at the PTA…how? How could she have “known” them all those years and known nothing at all?
She felt the beginning of a migraine coming on, a throbbing starting in the back of her eye. Her throat felt scratchy and her eyes hot, tears threatening to form at any moment. “My God,” she thought. “How could I not have known? How could I have been so fucking blind?” She cleared her thoughts and turned her full attention back to Mitchell, knowing he needed her strength.
“Mitchell,” she said. “I can’t help but notice your bags. Do you need a place to stay?” She knew she should have checked in with Jay first, but the words left her mouth before she could stop herself.
“Mrs. P.”, he stammered, “None of that anymore, it’s April,” she said. “Ok, April,” he began, her name foreign on his lips. “If it’s not too much trouble. It would only be a few weeks. I have housing set up at the campus, but I can’t move in till the beginning of the month. I didn’t know where else to go. I just needed to get away, get a fresh start.”
“It’s settled then,” April said, standing up and grabbing his bag. “Go to the car and get your things, you’ll stay in the guest room for the time being. Oh my goodness, Toby is going to be thrilled when he sees you. Just wait and see.” April settled Mitchell into the guest room then went to find her phone. She dialed Jay’s number and waited, her heart oddly beating fast, her skin flushed. “Odd,” she thought, as her husband’s line began to ring “must be the excitement from an unexpected guest.”
Deleted:The truth is y
Deleted: she was in
Deleted:You and your husband were always so good to me, and I’ve missed Toby so much.