“Modern technology is decimating my literary prowess as well as my love life.”
Evangeline held her gaze steady, refusing to give in to an auto-eye-roll. I love my cousin. Mom loves her. Dad loves her. I can’t kill her without due process of the law. She snatched a pecan from the trail mix bag and eyed it carefully.
“What? You think a nut can explain my life?”
There were so many possible responses—Eva’s head swam. She popped the dainty morsel into her mouth and crunched. She peered over the top of her reading glasses at her DNA-sharer and wondered how any one human being could get so thoroughly confused on a daily basis.“What has the computer done to you now, Tracy?”
“The blinking delete button!”
Another pecan followed the first. Eva glanced at the car’s dashboard. Six minutes to go. Once the kids were out of school and slumped into the back seat, they all could race to the store, pick up the cake mix and two kinds of frosting for the bake sale, plus three kinds of sprinkles because kids these days won’t shell out their parent’s money without sprinkles, speed home, get the girls on baking duty, let the dog out…no, definitely let the dog out first. Then preheat the oven. Then get the girls baking…
“Don’t you want to know about the delete button?”
Eva propped her head against the warm car window. Four minutes. She could live through four more minutes, surely. “So what evil has the delete button been perpetrating upon you, my dear?”
“I don’t have one when I talk.”
“You know, I’ve won awards for my writing. I’m considered one of the most professional science journalists out there. But heck, put a mike in front of my mouth or perch a good looking guy on the stand, and I’m a babbling idiot.”
A tiny piece of pecan had wedged itself behind one of Eva’s front teeth and it was worth more than the cost of her new couch to get the thing into a more approachable position. She took a sip of water as the school bell buzzed.
Kids swarmed like bees in springtime. The two second cousins, Kala and Marci bustled along bumping shoulders, as if they had just shared a joke or were in on a secret together.
At least, they looked like they are having fun. Eva pressed the unlock button. The kids tumbled in. End of conversation. She hoped.
Tracy dashed such dreams to smithereens without conscious thought. “My theory is that human beings are going to kill each other before the century is out because we’re used to editing our words with the ease of a delete button, and we’re slowly but surely losing the ability to speak coherently face to face.” She turned and squinted at the girls with a two-fingered wave. “Hi, beautiful babes.”
Eva didn’t have to look in the rearview mirror to see the eye-rolls. The car nearly lurched into oncoming traffic with the force of them.
Marci patted her mom’s shoulder. “Hi, pretty mama.” She nudged Kala. They both grinned.
Eva made a slow turn into the store parking lot, which happened to be conveniently located between the grade school and the high school.
“Some city planners in cahoots with local business interests.”
“What?” Tracy’s wide-eyed expression left no doubt that the delete button was missing in action again.
Eva shook her head and darted from the stopped car like a puppy off its leash. “Sit tight. I just have to grab a couple things—”
No such luck. Tracy flew to her side and flung her purse strap over her shoulder. Soldiers had been known to carry injured buddies off the battlefield with less drama.
Speeding down the baking aisle entertaining fantasies of finding both frosting and sprinkles on a half-off sale kept Eva’s mind so busy she didn’t hear a word her cousin said. Not until the babbling stopped short, and the woman’s steely grip yanked her sleeve off her shoulder. “There he is! The guy I was interviewing today. He’s a scientist. But you’d never guess, would you?”
With slow, nonchalant dignity, Eva redressed her shoulder and slid a glance at the scientist in aisle two. Indeed. He did not match any stereotypes currently running around Eva’s married head. Except perhaps about some childish long-forgotten barbarian king with long, wavy, hair, intense brooding eyes, broad shoulders and mighty biceps, who swept her off… Whoa—
Tracy strode forward and thrust out her hand.
Eva closed her eyes and thanked God that their innocent daughters were still in the car.
Tracy babbled. The man nodded.
Eva debated the need for Confession if she just slinked to the bakery aisle, retrieved her much-needed items, and then scraped her cousin off the floor after the fact. She turned, prepared for flight.
“Eva!” Tracy grabbed the man’s hand and attempted the yank maneuver.
Eva froze, wondering if spontaneous combustion was a legitimate option.
By some kind of supernatural Grace, which apparently altered the known universe, the man grinned and allowed himself to be towed across two aisles.
Tracy beamed. Seriously. Beams of happiness shot from her eyes nearly blinding Eva. “Guess what? I bet you’ll never guess!”
Eva considered the guy. He appeared to be amused. Tickled even. His gorgeous physiology only accented his apparent joy.
Eva slapped her hand against her cheek.
The man laughed, pulled his hand free, and held it out. “I’m Kendrick and work at the state forensics lab. Your cousin interviewed me for—”
“He doesn’t think I need a delete button!”
Eva shook her head. “But I do. Let the man finish his sentence.”
Tracy blushed. “Oh, yeah. Sorry.”
Kendrick’s smile didn’t waver. “It doesn’t really matter. I was just glad we bumped into each other. I was rather short with her today, and I wanted to apologize. One of my kids has been sick, and I’ve been up two nights in a row helping my wife take care of him.”
Without looking, Eva knew that Tracy’s beam had faded into shadow. She offered the father a comforting shoulder pat. “Oh, been there, done that. Hope your boy gets better soon. Our girls are waiting for us in the car—we better run.”
With a gentleman’s nod, he returned to his niche aisle. Cold remedies and vitamins.
By the time they had returned to the car, Tracy had rediscovered her voice. “I didn’t see a ring on his finger. So I just figured…and when he recognized me and said—”
Eva stopped beside the car and gave her cousin a one-armed hug, the other hand clutching the baking supplies. “Listen, honey, it isn’t that you need a delete button—so much as a listening ear. Just give other people a chance to show you who they are before you decide you know them. Okay?”
Tracy nodded, yanked open the passenger side door and slid in with a harrumph.
Eva pulled into traffic, trying to decide if she should preheat the oven or hug her husband first.
A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
Make the most of life’s journey.
For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page