We Talked About Tomatoes: 11 - Talk

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Ana

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<GEORGIA>

The rehearsal dinner was tonight. It was as if Steph liked to torture me. As if she wanted me and Bryce to clash at every possible place. I wanted to hit her, but it would show and she's getting married. See, she neglected to inform me that Bryce and I are putting together a little slide-show for the dinner. Yeah, so I'll be meeting him around about two hours before. That's two hours for me not ready enough.

That's about five minutes from now. About four until I open the door, step into the reserved dining hall Steph had booked. I wasn't nervous but I wasn't calm either. Like I've been trying to convince myself profusely over the past week, Bryce and I can be friends. We can be here for Steph and Nick.

I brought Harriette along. Good or bad idea? I don't know which, to be honest. But she gives me support. She was so cute in her pigtails, her brown ringlets curling from the pink ribbons. The ribbons matched her small pink polka-dot blue dress that was for tonight. I'd just have to try and not let her spill anything on it.

I took a deep breath, gave a big smile to Harriette who was practically jumping in her flat Mary-Jane's, and opened the door. I was surprised and glad by how much trouble Steph went to. Also a little guilty I wasn't here sooner to arrange it. I knew I was moving back to New York, by the way. I had a small gallery there with some friends from NYU. I had to go back.

There were violet balloons already blown up and dangling from the ceiling. There were clean white table cloths spread over large circular tables situated around the carpeted room. It was still a little light and knowing Steph she had probably made somethings glow when we turn the lights off for the slideshow. Steph was getting married.

Before I could continue to reminisce how childish Steph is and ponder about if she's really ready I heard a chair screech. Apparently not all the floor surface was covered in dark coloured carpet. I whirled around, my sweeping side fringe colliding with my eyes. I shook them out of my face and stared at Bryce in jeans and a tee.

I gave tight smile. "Hey," I greeted in a voice maybe a little too high. I held up my hand in a half-wave. Remembering that Harriette was clutching my other hand I hurried to introduce them. "Bryce, this is my . . . daughter, Harriette."

I tried to give a smile but it faltered when I saw his face. It was of shock, sadness and maybe a hint of betrayal. I could see him joining the dots. I could rush to explain but Harriette was my daughter. Not Harry's. I could've said that. I could've. But I didn't. It's as if I wanted him to know I have a daughter. But not to know that it's actually Ivy's. Does that make me a little masochistic?

Bryce crouched, to around Harriette's height. "Hey there, Harriette. I'm Bryce. Your mom and I were friends in high school. There are some balloons over there if you want to play with them. This slide show stuff isn't going to be much fun for you." Bryce pointed to a balloon that wasn't filled with helium and skidding against the floor.

Harriette nodded eagerly and looked up at me hopefully with big brown eyes. "Sure," I allowed. "Just don't run around too much, you might ruin Aunty Steph's decorations." I let her go and hesitantly looked back at Bryce. I wringed my hands uncontrollably.

"How old is she?"

"She's almost six. It's not what you're thinking."

"I didn't say anything. Come on, let's get the slideshow started."

He led me to a desk and chair with a MacBook atop the desk's smooth surface. I sat down and handed him my USB. I could already sense the awkwardness. It was just so . . . quiet and . . . awkward. I didn't know what to say.

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