Joel and Bobbi


(This discussion between Bobbi and Joel in Chapter 18 didn't really advance the plot, so it's here and not in the book.)

Friday, September 28

Later that evening, Chuck took Shannon out for a movie and ice cream date, but not before helping his mother get settled back in Brad’s room for the night. As Bobbi brewed her nightly coffee, Joel wandered into the kitchen, and began searching through the cabinets. “Hungry again?” she asked.

“Yeah, it’s been almost two hours,” Joel answered. He took out a large bowl and filled it with cereal.

“You want some coffee with that?” Bobbi asked when the coffeemaker finished.

“Sure,” Joel mumbled through a mouthful of corn flakes.

“Who raised you?” Bobbi teased. “They should have taught you some manners.”

“Oh, she taught me,” Joel answered. “I’m just rude.”

“She is not reassured.” Bobbi set a cup on the counter beside him, and sat down at the kitchen table. “So how’s Abby?”

“Fine. She was glad to meet everybody finally.”

“She’s very sweet, Joel. You chose well.”

“Told ya,” he answered, taking a long drink from his coffee.

Bobbi slid her coffee cup closer. “You never told her that I had reservations.”

“You had vehement opposition, Mom, not just reservations.”

“Even so, you never told her.”

“No,” Joel said. He put his bowl in the sink and joined his mother at the table. “You apologized. It’s gone. Besides, the last thing Abby needed was somebody else standing in judgment of her.”

“Joel, I’m sorry,” Bobbi said quietly.

“It’s okay. I know I hit you at a bad time, which was extremely inconsiderate, and selfish. I get that way sometimes. I think it’s a guy thing.” Joel smiled. “Abby didn’t get exactly the same reception that Dad did when he went before the church. Her family was kind of left twisting in the wind. Nobody really came alongside them.”

“How have her parents handled things?”

“Less than perfect. Her dad especially.” He took a drink from his coffee. “You know, I’ve seen pictures of her from before it all happened. She looks like a different girl. It’s like she’s been extinguished. Her eyes don’t light up the way they used to, and her smile is gone. Of course, that doesn’t mean she never smiles. It’s just not the same.” 

“We went through that, too, honey. It just didn’t last as long.”

“Well, I’m ready for her to be free of all that. She never allows herself to relax and enjoy where she is now, because of what she did in the past. It still controls her.”

“Isn’t counseling helping?”

“She’s a hard woman, Mom,” Joel said with a smile. “You know the type.” He leaned back in his chair. “She thinks the world of you, though. Maybe you’re the key.”

Bobbi sipped her coffee. I can’t be everybody’s key. Jack, Tracy, and now Abby. Who’s going to be my key? As if there weren’t enough pressure on her already. “So when are you bringing Abby home for a real visit?” Bobbi hoped changing the subject would clear her head.

“When does Dad have Jack again?”

“Tomorrow, Wednesday and next weekend.”

“Tomorrow? Why just Saturday?”

“Jack didn’t get to see Grandma, so he’s coming over tomorrow for a while.”

“And Tracy let him?”

“It was her idea.”

“Go figure.”

“I’d rather not,” Bobbi said, finishing her coffee.

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