“Now, exactly what is our role here, Madeline?” Auggie was barely able to contain his delight. “What do you need from us?”
After the walk with Ellie, Madeline’s renewed burst of enthusiasm for the prospect of Living in the Moment manifest in the form of shooting off a text to Dan: “Hey, no idea what you’re up to this evening, but having some friends over for dinner. Join us later if you’re free. I made pie.”
“Auggie, you’re being weird,” Madeline said.
“No, no. I’m serious. We want to be there for you. We just need to know what our role is.” Auggie radiated a decidedly boyish quality, in the best sense. And in his unbridled enthusiasm for the task at hand, he was adorable. Bess nearly always found him adorable, and made this obvious in frequent, glowingly loving glances at him. Across the dinner table from Madeline, the two of them radiated exuberance, good will and love. It delighted Madeline, and made her misty, and wistful, and, as her son would have said when he was a little boy, sickenated.
Auggie continued: “I mean, are we chaperones here? Do you want us to stick around until after he leaves? We would love to do that for you.” He put his arm around Bess, and pulled her head over to lean against his own. “Wouldn’t we, babe? Chaperones!” He caught Bess mid-sip with her wine, and as she gurgled an assent into her glass, he said, “Or wait. Do I have the wrong idea here? Maybe you want us to leave right away! Maybe you’re dying to be alone with him! Maybe the whole ‘why don’t you come over while I have friends here thing’ is just a ruse to make it seem innocent.” Bess could barely get her wine glass safely onto the table, she was laughing so hard.
“Auggie, seriously, don’t do anything one bit differently than if Dan wasn’t here. Really. Stay as long as you want to stay. Leave when you want to leave! Like always!! ”
“What about a sign? Maybe we should come up with a sign – two signs – one if you think it’s going well, and you want us to leave so the two of you can be alone; one if it’s not going so well, and you want us to stay.”
“It really doesn’t matter what I say, does it? You’re deep into your own thing here.”
“F I N E,” Auggie said. “Mission aborted.”
“More pie, Auggie?”