71.2K 1.9K 320

Chapter Eighteen

Joe didn’t come home until around two in the morning. I felt like Mildred, snooping through the window, as I spied on him. But Joe didn’t go directly in his house; he went to my shed. He opened the door, slipped inside and came out less than a minute later. What could Joe up to?

And how did he get in?

Joe went inside his house. As he passed my bedroom window, I noticed his clothes were dirty and grimy, like he’d been rolling in dirt. A million questions ran through my mind, but I was tired of pondering it all. I just wanted to go to sleep and so did Muffy. She lay on my bed and looked irritated that her glares hadn’t stopped me from getting up and down. I finally fell asleep, cuddling Muffy, until I couldn’t take the smell rolling out of her every ten minutes and covered my head with a pillow.

The next morning, I made a pot of coffee and stared at the television. Here I had gone to the trouble of getting cable and I still hadn’t watched it. So I turned it on, flipping through two hundred channels until I found a rerun of Little House on the Prairie. I spent most of the morning slumped in the chair, which made me frustrated. I had a day and a half left to live and I was watching reruns.

I made myself shower and dress, and then clean up the mess in the kitchen. There wasn’t much to clean but we’d left out Chinese food cartons and the chopsticks were stuck to the table. I threw everything away and found two fortune cookies, still unopened. In twenty-four years, I had never had a fortune cookie, which seemed pitiful. I ripped the cellophane wrapper open and broke the cookie in half, pulling out a rectangular paper.

Your future looks bright and promising.

I almost laughed. I must have really bad karma.

The phone rang, and I jumped. Everything startled me these days, obviously with good reason.

“Rose? What are you doing home? Why are you off work again?” Joe asked.

“Joe, if you don’t think I’m home, why do you keep calling?” I asked, suddenly weary.

“I wanted to leave you a message.” He sounded like a kid caught throwing rocks at the neighbor’s window. “I wanted to apologize for last night.”

I sat silent, unsure what to say. He took my silence as encouragement.

“I was really harsh with you and I shouldn’t have been. I didn’t expect to be called into work last night. They called me in for a tense situation and it made me short. I’m sorry.”

I still didn't say anything, unsure how I felt. Why did he have to be so complicated? But then, if that wasn’t the pot calling the kettle black, I didn't know what was.

“Can I make it up to you tonight? I want to take you out to dinner. We can go to the Italian restaurant, Little Italy. Then you can check off go to Italy since you can’t actually fly there before Sunday.”

My eyes burned. “You remembered Go to Italy?” How did he remember?

He heard the crack in my voice. “Oh, Rose, don’t cry. I’m so sorry about last night. Of course, I remembered. I remember everything about you, including your list. Please, just give me another chance. I promise to make it up to you.”

I wiped the tears off my cheeks. I’d be an idiot to say yes. I wanted to ask him why he was in my shed the night before, but then he’d know I’d been snooping on him. Why did I have to like him so much?

“Please?” He was begging, desperation clinging to his voice.

It was a public place, what could happen? I’d make him answer my questions and if he didn't answer them to my satisfaction then I'd just avoid him all day Saturday.