I sat in the living room waiting when I heard footsteps. I looked and saw Mrs. Forrest standing in the doorway.
“Dinner’s ready,” she said.
“Thank you,” I replied. These ladies had a feast tonight. I mean, Holy crap!
“Whoa!” I said. “You didn’t have to go all out for me like this.” Grace smiled at me.
“It was no real biggie,” she said. “Really!” I looked at the table again. So many colors. It felt like Christmas to me.
“Wow!” I mouthed to myself. My girlfriend clapped her hands together.
“Right!” she said. “Let’s eat!”
“Yeah!” I cheered.
We all sat around eating. Mrs. Forrest kept her eyes on me the whole time. Uh-oh. Here come the questions. I braced myself for the flood.
“James,” she said. “What do you do for a living?” I sat up at the table.
“I work in a record store,” I replied.
“Are you in school now?”
“I’m thinkin about grad school.”
“Thinking about it?”
“Money’s tight at the moment.”
The crab soup tasted rich. Real crab and herbs.
“This is good soup,” I said.
“Thank you,” Mrs. Forrest replied.
“Try the duck,” Grace said.
“I will,” I said. Mrs. Forrest took a sip of wine.
“How long have you been dating my daughter?” she asked.
“Five weeks,” I said.
“I see,” she said. The duck turned out to be juicy and tender.
“I really do love your daughter,” I said.
“I see,” the old lady said. The dinner went on nicely. Halfway through, I lowered my fork.
“May I use your bathroom?” I asked.
“Sure, go ahead,” Mrs. Forrest replied.
“Thank you,” I said with my head bowed. I stood up and left the table. In truth, I went to go snooping. All of these questions about me had me wonder about Grace herself. This shouldn’t be too long.
I first went into Grace’s room by accident. Good place to start. I looked around at first. Nice and clean so far. I took small steps inside. Awards and family pictures decorated the walls. Many books filled the purple bookcase against the back wall. It’s all green so far. Grace appears to be a smart woman. But, I must keep looking. Right, time to start searching.
First place to look? Under the bed, of course. I walked over and lifted up the red and yellow comforter. Shoes, containers, and a little pink box. I dragged out the little pink box. The bunny, Mimiko, smiled on the front. I felt along the white Romaji letters. What could be inside here? Jewelry? Money? A diary? I unlatched the box and opened it. My face twisted in shock.
Pills? I looked through the many bottles. Nineteen to be exact. I just couldn’t understand it. Pills? I shook my head. I can’t have a sick girl! Wait, maybe there’s a better explanation for this. I’ll have to see. I made my trip back to the dining room. Grace and her mother eyed me.
“Found your way just fine?” Mrs. Forrest asked. I nodded quickly.
“Yes ma’am!” I replied. I sat down at the table.
Time for dessert. A nice chocolate cream pie for everyone. I held my tongue for most of it. How do I ask gently? I don’t want to come off as a rude bastard. I glanced at me girlfriend. I drew in a breath. Looks like I have no choice but to go for it. I lowered my spoon.
“When I was in the bathroom, I noticed there were many pills in the cabinet,” I said. “Are any of you sick or something, if you don’t mind me asking.” Nobody spoke for a moment. I feared Grace would get mad at me for asking. But instead, my girlfriend smiled at me.
“It’s okay,” she said. “I had bipolar disorder since I was seven.”
“Yeah. I have it under control now.”
I found myself smiling. “Oh, I see.” I began to relax. Bipolar disorder. Under control. That’s all it is. What was I worried for?
The rest of dinner turned out great.