Elsie looked out the car window in complete silence.
“You’re being very quiet.” said Hildreth.
Clarice stopped at a stop light. “Hmm. Hmm. Hmm. I’m not picking up any tension. Not this time around. Oh, but the avoidance behavior. Oh my! You can almost lick it out of the air.”
“I’m not avoiding anything, Mom.”
“Hmm. Hey, Hildreth. Lean forward, you beautiful piece of man.”
He obeyed. “What is it?”
“I’m going to give you a mother’s warning. Any time she says there’s nothing wrong or she’s not avoiding anything or she’s not mad at you, it means only one thing: She’s mad at you. She’s avoiding something. And, most important of all, something’s wrong.”
“Really. I’m not avoiding anything. I was just thinking.”
The light turned green and Clarice returned her focus to the road.
Hildreth settled back “About what?”
“See?” said Clarice. “What did I tell you?”
“Okay. Fine. I was going to discuss this with him later, but fine. I’ll discuss it now.”
Hildreth tensed up. “What did I do wrong this time?”
“Nothing. And I mean nothing. It isn’t you, Hildreth. It’s…It’s me.”
That statement did nothing to relieve his tension.
“Your apology today…”
“What about it?”
“You were right. You should at least try to trust me more and not just assume that I’m Ambrose’s slut in waiting.”
“Oooo. I’m glad you didn’t wait till later to discuss this.”
“Just sayin’ this is some hot hot talking.”
“Oh, for goodness sakes. Never mind. I will wait till later.”
“Elsie.” He took her hands and held them. “Just look at me. Talk to me. Tell me whatever it is you’re trying to say.”
“If you don’t trust me, it isn’t just your fault. I have been mentally hung up on Ambrose, I will admit it, for far too long. There’s just something about him. I don’t know what it is, but he made me feel crazy in all of the good ways.”
“Yep. That’s my little girl talking hot trash about her ex-boyfriend. I don’t know if I should be mortified or impressed.”
Elsie sighed. “As I was saying, I know I’ve been obsessed about him. I know my unholy Ambrose obsession has hurt you and made you feel belittled. And I am sorry. You’re a good man, Hildreth, and you are good for me. You’re everything that Ambrose will never be, even if he tried and I know he would never try. I will marry you, Hildreth Mayhew, and I will be your wife in mind and in body. No matter what.”
“Do you mean it? If Ambrose showed up at your door tomorrow…”
“I’d tell him where the nearest train station is and give him money for a one way ticket out of town. And I’m not just saying that to make you feel better. I mean it with everything I am.”
“You should totally kiss her after a speech like that.”
He laughed. “Your mom has a very good point.”
She smiled. “So, she does.”
Elsie leaned forward and kissed him.
And it was not a polite “let’s kiss in front of your mom” kiss.
Not in the least.