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Emily Frankel. All rights reserved.

Ivy – page 2
page 1, page 3, page 4, page 5, page 6

ivy_quote2“Started Thursday.” Eloise placed the menu on the plate, staring. The customer had a terrific pair of boob hills at the top of her blouse. From her cleavage up, she was movie star pretty, but gee, why wasn’t the lady on a diet? “Gee, I wish my hair was shoulder-length like yours. You’re a regular, huh?”

Ivy nodded. “You’re a student, right?” Typical high school was what the girl’s iridescent
eye shadow and glossy dark lipstick implied.

“Senior at Ann Arbor High.” Eloise held up her hand to show off her engagement ring, a proud little sparkler on a slender gold band. “Four months till my wedding. I’m working weekends plus two mornings, my guy’s doing weekends at McDonald’s so we can make a down payment on a West Branch Condo. Cal made a bunch of Valentine’s Day tarts for tomorrow. They’re still hot, taste real good with coffee or latte.”

Seeing her waiter, coffee pot in hand, heading toward the lovers in the booth, Ivy opened the menu. “I think I’ll wait.”

It was the same menu she and Mama had perused every Sunday, last time two years ago when Mama still had a little bit of an appetite. It seemed like a minute ago, but time for a bereaved daughter is told by a clock with hands that don’t seem to move.

After Mama’s funeral last year, their Sunday tradition—waffle with maple syrup, whipped sweet butter, whatever fresh fruit was in season, and Cal’s fragrant house-blend coffee, had become a ritual for Ivy, a way of talking things over with Mama even though she was gone—something to look forward to every week.

Across the room her waiter, like the master of the mansion in his black jeans, black loafers, crisp white shirt, was chatting, smiling and nodding, treating the lovey-dovey twosome like friends, like he treated her. He always asked how she was doing. Refilling her coffee mug before it was empty, remembering her preference for brown sugar, with a flourish, he always placed a packet of it next to her mug.

He didn’t wear a name tag but she’d heard a waiter call him “Mish.” His hair was a rich dark brown, same shade as hers. It looked home-hacked. He was handsome, classical American neat features, nice height. She figured early-thirties— lightly etched lines in the corners of his eyes, circles under them, not dark circles, a man’s eyes, not a boy’s—graduate student maybe, possibly Psychology.

The first time she noticed him, really focused on him was Easter Sunday last year when he calmed a Mother and little girl who’d spit out a mouthful of something and hurled the bread basket at her mother. He’d gotten both of them, Mother and daughter laughing and eating again.

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