Guinevere and I are eating breakfast with her parents. Normally, they eat about seven, but she asked them to wait until I arrived. Dad told me to drive our car. I’m five minutes early. I don’t think I slept last night.
Guin made waffles and Gretchen made homemade blackberry syrup, but not syrup. Compote, she called it. Way too thick for syrup. Noel Kinton must exercise hard to stay in shape the way they eat, though being six-twelve probably helps. He’s got a lot more territory to spread it out.
“Have you read Chaim Potok, Paxton? The Chosen and My Name Is Asher Lev are two of his best and most widely read, though Gretchen favors Davita’s Harp.” Noel Kinton has decided that he and I can talk literature. I know few of the authors he suggests, but I’ve gone to the library for every book he’s recommended.
“No, I haven’t. Did they make a movie of The Chosen?”
“I would not be surprised, though I haven’t seen it, personally. I tend to find theatrical adaptations of books disappointing. Do you enjoy them?”
I’m chewing waffle and compote, trying to frame an adequate answer to another question that sounds like a test, when Guin says, “Paxton and I wanted to talk to you both. Didn’t we, Paxton.” A cue, not a question.
I take a large swallow of milk, taking care not to choke (which is harder than you’d guess, when you’re consciously trying) and nod my head several times. She’s waiting for me to continue. Her father, who does not like being interrupted, is also waiting for me.
“Um, Guinevere and I had hoped to talk to you because, we, uh…well, we’ve been talking, and we decided we think it’s time to—I mean, we feel ready to talk about…” come on, one more word, “marriage.”
Pathetic, but I did it.
“You want to talk about our marriage?” Gretchen asks, half-joking, but she’s not laughing.
“No. We want to get married. I would like to marry your daughter.” So much better.
In the silence, Noel Kinton cuts another bite and puts it in his mouth. Trying not to avoid their stares, I count his chews.
“You’re pregnant?” Gretchen asks, but it comes out a statement. She wants confirmation.
I start to shake my head, but Guinevere says, “Hardly. We’re not even close to having sex.”