NaNoWriMo Day 3
Denise and I shared a table in first grade, and so we became friends. One day she invited me to go home with her after school. She did this via a note that her mom wrote to Tanya. One Monday, Denise handed me a light blue envelope and said, "This is for your mom. It's a letter asking her if you can come home with me afterschool on Thursday and if your mom can pick you up from our house before dinner. You're not invited to dinner."
The envelope was small but weighty; the paper had a softness I had never felt on paper before. This small thing, from Denise's mom to mine, itself a surprise, was a prelude to a revelation. That afternoon, I handed it to Tanya while she had her pre-dinner cocktail in the living room. When she saw the dark blue script on the outside, she snickered. "Mrs. West! Oh, this is going to be good." I cannot say this was the first time her words started to sting, the first time I felt her reproach without being able to see what I had done to provoke it, but it is one moment I remember distinctly, maybe because it led to bigger illuminations.
Tanya put down her drink but kept the cigarette in hand and opened the envelope. I watched her eyes dart left and right, then she looked up at me.
"Did you read this?"
I shook my head no.
"Well it looks like your friend Denise would like you to visit after school on Thursday." She took a drag and held the smoke back as she asked, "Do you like Denise?" I nodded. She exhaled. "Would you like to go to her place on Thursday?" I nodded. "Well don't sound so excited about it. What can you tell me about Denise? Have you met her mom? Or I should say, 'Mrs. Peterson.' Is she older? Is she nice or mean or crazy?"
Tanya always had something more to say, and so I learned to wait until she was finished. At a certain point, I just stopped talking unless I was sure she wanted me to. It was too tiring and too disorienting to start talking only to be interrupted with comments or questions that might take the conversation off in another direction altogether, making my remarks useless. And before long, I didn't have much to say to her anyway.
She put the note on the coffee table and picked up her drink. "All right. I will call Arlene—Mrs. Peterson to you—and let her know it's a date. And I will let her know that nobody, but nobody calls me 'Mrs.'"