“Oh, thank you so much, Mama. You really didn’t have to. It’s just another day.”
“And you need clothes,” she said quickly. We hugged. “Now, what about this get-together at Billy’s house?”
“Billy said his Mama and Greg was going to come get me, and come in and meet you.”
She sighed. “How do you feel?”
“Me too. But they are up front, and want to meet you.”
“I think I want to go.”
“Okay. Okay, then.” She nodded. We hugged again. “Did they say when they were coming?”
“At six. I’ll eat dinner at their house. Then they’ll bring me back by nine.”
“Mrs. Carnes said that they never get to meet Billy’s girlfriends. This meeting is sort of uncommon,” Mama said.
“I know. It’s downright weird!” We laughed. “I’m going to do my homework before I go so I’d better get busy.”
At six o’clock I was sitting on the brown vinyl sofa waiting for them to come. Everybody else was getting dinner on the table. Six-thirty came and everyone was finishing dinner and they hadn’t come yet.
Mama yelled from the kitchen, “Sweetie, we have a few leftovers. Come eat something.”
“They said they would have dinner for me. They’re just a little late, that’s all,” I yelled back.
At a quarter to seven there was a knock at the door. I got up and opened it. Greg and Billy’s mom, Janice, was there and I invited them in. As they passed me, I got a familiar whiff of alcohol.
Janice introduced herself to me first. “You have got to be Ronni,” she said and threw her arms out wide. I let her hug me. Alcohol was strong on her breath. “Billy described you to a ‘T’!” Janice was about forty, dyed blonde with black roots, tattoos on her arms, and a long straight nose and thick dark eyebrows just like Billy.
I smiled. I had no idea what to do or say. I was more scared now than ever. Mama came in after washing her hands, Papa was behind her. Janice let me go. Mama looked at me and I signaled her with my eyes, giving her an afraid look. I looked at her, then at Janice, then back at her. Mama introduced herself and I saw her wrinkle her nose a bit.
Mama’s face got red! Was she angry? Embarrassed? I didn’t know!
“Mr. Williams, I’m Greg Stutzman,” Greg said and held out his hand. Papa shook his hand and grinned. God, could all this be any more awkward! Greg was taller than Papa, and older, I think. His gray hair made him look older.
“Um…I probably have no business saying anything, but I get very protective where my kids are concerned, but I could not help smelling alcohol. Have you been drinking, Janice?” Mama asked.
“I had a shot to steel my nerves before we came over, but that is all,” she said. “I don’t mind you asking, and I certainly don’t mind saying. Greg is driving and he hasn’t had a drop, I assure you,” Janice said calmly.
Now that it is out in the open, I’m breathing again. She’s being an adult about it, not blowing up with Mama’s prying. “I think everything will be okay, Mama,” I said.
“Of course, it will. We’re going to have some dinner and then sit and talk. Then I’ll bring her home,” Greg said. He seemed like a nice man.
“Alright then, I want to speak to Ronni for a minute before you take her,” Mama said. She got me in the kitchen and gave me the bus pass.