Their reaction to my question is Immediate and Dramatic. A tear leaks out of Mimi’s eye. Pop pats her back and grits his teeth.
I cross my arms and swallow down the lump in my throat. I’m not a crier. That is, I’m not a crier NOW. I used to cry upon occasion. Like, when I was a baby. Babies cry. Or when I’d fall and scrape my knees. Or if something sad happened in a book or to the twins. Or if Mom scolded me and put me in time out. Regular crying that you do in regular times. No more. Sometimes I FEEL like crying. My heart gets tight and empty. I can hardly bear it. I wrestle with the lumps in my throat. But no tears. I’m like one of those coals in Pop’s grill. One of the coals that gets pushed to the side and isn’t part of the big clump that’s really cooking the chickens. It just glows over there, unnoticed.
I don’t want to cry. I want to get even.
This all goes through my head while I watch Pop and Mimi calm each other down.
I remember something Oliver told me about them. Having kids around after all these years is something Mimi and Pop aren’t used to yet. I have no idea how he knows these things, but he’s right. Oliver also said that it’s the same with Zia, but different. She knew him well as his nanny up to age 7. She’s had to get used to my being a grown-up now, he says. Hmph! For sure she needs to get used to his living at the farm, but not because he’s a grown up!
I’d say it’s different for you, Oliver. My parents are dead. Forever.
Right, and mine are dead to me, even though they’re alive.
Back to the Preliminary Hearing question that’s making Mimi cry and Pop grit his teeth.
Sorry, Isabel. Pop tugs tissues out of a box and splits them between himself and Mimi. More time passes. (A few seconds, but they’re heavy seconds.)
Mimi says, Isabel, what happened to your Mom and Dad is terrible. Then she seems to notice how I’m standing with my arms crossed. She pats the space between herself and Pop and starts to get up, Sit down, why don’t you?
I shake my head. Just tell me. ARE. WE. GOING?