Rita and Bobbi Meet for Lunch

 

 

Cut from Chapter-19, this scene had probably the shortest life of any scene in the book. It was written for the 3rd draft, then immediately dropped. It gives us a look at where Bobbi is emotionally as she wrestles with the issues in her marriage and her own fears. It also lets you see that Rita isn't totally irrational, that she has fears of her own. 

 

Friday, December 2

Rita Heatley tapped her foot, her head pivoted between the wall clock and the front door of Antonio’s. Bobbi was never late. Never. Meeting for lunch was her idea. She wouldn’t back out without calling, would she?

“Checking my phone is not the same as checking my watch,” Rita muttered, pulling her phone from her purse again. No messages. No missed calls.

“Hey, sorry I’m late,” Bobbi said, dropping into the chair across from her sister.

Rita snapped her phone closed. “I didn’t see you come in. I was beginning to worry.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I was buying Brad an iPod for Christmas, and the little sales guy… He dragged out every model, every color, had to show me every feature… I think I could build one now.”

“I’m thrilled you feel like shopping.”

“Just for the boys. Chuck and I aren’t … maybe next year.” Bobbi slipped her coat off. She wore a bulky sweater over a wide-collared blouse. It failed to hide her prominent collarbones or her narrow wrists.

“How much weight have you lost?”

“I don’t know… twelve, fifteen pounds maybe.”

More like twenty. “That’s not healthy, Baby. You’re eating, aren’t you?”

“Yes, Mother. At least two meals a day, all week. Chuck even cooked dinner for us Tuesday and Thursday.” The waiter stopped by to take their orders. Bobbi glanced at Rita as she read from the menu, settling on seafood alfredo. “Was that acceptable, Mom? I figured the alfredo sauce was worth extra points.”

“I worry. You can’t fault me for that.” She stirred a packet of sweetener in her tea.

“Kara and John are moving back. Worry about them, and get your mind off me.”

“I have thought about them …” She straightened her silverware.

“Worried, you mean.”

“John has the same kind of … history … Chuck does and …”

“And you think he’s an affair waiting to happen, and Kara is gonna end up bitter, lonely and depressed like me.” The words were angry, sharp, full of rebuke. Rita flinched, and Bobbi hung her head. “I’m sorry. My fuse is like this long.” She held her thumb and forefinger up with a quarter inch gap between them. “I think it’s the medication.”

“I shouldn’t have brought it up.” Encouragement was not her gift.

“I don’t want to be the poster child for adultery victims, that’s all.”

“But if you helped save their marriage fifteen or twenty years from now …”

“I haven’t saved my own marriage yet.”

“But you are.” Rita leaned up to the table. “Big things are happening.”

“Yep, separation, distrust, depression. Big stuff.”

Rita shook her head. “Chuck and I made peace after what … twenty years? I’ve never seen God work in a disaster the way He is in this.”

“Disaster. Well put.”

“I give up,” Rita pushed back from the table, but then she saw the tears in Bobbi’s eyes.

“Please, don’t stop. I need you to challenge me. I got this stupid diagnosis and now everybody treats me like I’m made out of china. I was counting on you.”

“To argue with you?”

“Rita, I need to vent these things. I need somebody I can trust to keep yanking me back to what’s true.”

“I can’t do that. That’s like kicking you when you’re down.”

“I’m not down. I’m better every day. You gotta help me.”

“Ease my mind, then. Tell me how much better you are.”

“I had lunch with Donna Wednesday after seeing Dr. Craig, and she helped me sort some of this out.”

“It’s bigger than Chuck’s … uh … what happened with Chuck?”

“Chuck’s affair. You can say it out loud.” The waiter brought their salads, and promised lunch would be out soon. “Dr. Craig says it’s not the affair. It’s how I responded. Withdrawing, shutting down, not reacting, burying everything because I couldn’t rationalize the ‘correct’ response.”

“Daddy was the same way,” Rita said. “He and Mama never argued, he never lost his temper, but he never seemed comfortable being happy, either.” She poured Italian vinaigrette over her salad and stabbed at the lettuce. “So what’s the correct response? What does he want you to do?”

“Deal with it.” Subtle dread showed in her eyes. “All of it.”