Evangeline was still working at Addy’s shop, which was renamed SEAL Autobody. SEAL was a play on our names: Sevin, Evangeline, Addy and Luke. Sometimes, I’d sneak home early to arrive before she got home from work. Catching her all greased-up and dirty was a huge turn on.
One such afternoon, I was waiting impatiently for her to walk through the door when the house phone rang.
“Is this Sevin Montgomery?”
“My name is Genia Simonsen. I’m—”
“I know who you are.” My stomach dropped. “Has something happened to Rose?”
“No. I’m sorry to have alarmed you.”
Letting out a massive sigh of relief, I asked, “What’s going on?”
“I’m not supposed to be in contact with you. If Robert knew, he would be irate.”
“How did you get this number?”
“Evangeline has been in touch with me several times in recent weeks. She gave it to me.”
“She found me online, and we’ve been going back and forth a bit.”
Evangeline never said anything about contacting the Simonsens. It touched me that she’d been pushing for contact, especially since I knew she was personally against disrupting our little girl’s life. She was making the effort for me.
“What have you been discussing?”
“Evangeline has tried to connect with me, woman-to-woman, hoping to convince me to allow you both to spend some time with Rose.”
“Your husband made it very clear to me that seeing her wouldn’t ever be an option.”
“Evangeline asked if I could arrange something, maybe where Rose didn’t know who you were, but where you two could still see her on a semi-regular basis. I spoke to Robert about it, and I’m afraid he’s dead set against it.”
“So, you’re just calling to let us know that?”
“Well, actually, something’s come up.”
The tone in her voice prompted me to sit down. “What happened?”
“Robert was let go from his job a couple of months ago. He was just offered a position that’s out of state.”
“Out of state? Where?”
As soon as she uttered the word, my chest felt like it had been crushed. “You’re moving? Leaving with her?”
“I’m afraid we are. We have no choice.”
“What does Robert do? I could give him a job at Sutton. I—”
“You know he wouldn’t accept that. Arrangements for the move are already being made. I just somehow felt that you had a right to know.”
“I appreciate that, but honestly, I’m in absolute shock. Even though I can’t see her on a daily basis, there was solace in the fact that she was just a town over.”
“I was thinking that maybe you would want to see her before we leave. I can bring her to a public place. We could make it seem like a coincidental meeting. You just wouldn’t be able to tell her your real names in case she mentions something to her father.”
This moving bombshell she dropped had stunned me into silence.
Genia continued, “I know Evangeline was hoping for more, but that’s not going to be possible, especially now that we’re moving.” She paused. “Robert is out of town tomorrow. He’s chaperoning a field trip with my older girls. Would you be available? I could pack her lunch, meet you with Rose at a playground somewhere in between both of us.”
“Of course, we’ll be available. There is nothing I could possibly have to do that would be more important. Just let us know the time and place. We’ll be there.”
Evangeline and I arrived early. We didn’t want to risk missing any of the time that we were allotted with her. The sun was blazing onto the blue rubber playground surfacing. I could see our shadows as we sat on one of the benches aligning the edge of the park.
We’d gotten coffee on the way, and Evangeline was now ripping apart the Styrofoam cup.
“Don’t be nervous.”
“I can’t help it,” she said, continuing to destroy the cup.
Wearing a skirt and fancy blouse, Evangeline was overdressed for the occasion. I didn’t say anything because I knew it made her feel more confident; she wanted to make a good impression.
My own nerves were also acting up. Closing my eyes, I listened to the sounds of bouncing basketballs from the nearby court along with children playing tag in the crowded playground area.
Suddenly, the smell of hot dogs hit me, prompting me to open my eyes. A food truck had parked just outside the fence behind us.
I turned to her. “You want one?”
She shook her head. “I have no appetite. You do?”
“No.” I smiled.
A few minutes later, I heard her name before I spotted her.
Her black pigtails were swinging back and forth as she ignored her mother and ran straight to the climb-up tower above the red tube slide.
Evangeline and I both stood up from the bench in unison as Genia Simonsen walked toward us.
She was holding a small cooler and said, “Sorry. She has a mind of her own. She’ll come back when she’s hungry or thirsty. How long have you been waiting?”
“Not long,” Evangeline lied. We’d actually arrived so early that we were the first people here.
“We’ve been so busy packing for the move. She’s just a little overly excited to be out of the house.”