She's just talking. He loves it. She smiles to herself. "Did you ride horses to school too?" She rolls her eyes; Marlene likes it when he talks back.
Paul's making dinner, folding laundry. Cathy breathes and puts her things down. He's proud of his work around the pleats; she tries to work around her gratitude.
"I like doing laundry, Paul. Laundry's my thing. You know? The measuring, the smells. It helps me relax."
He agrees. "I feel like I'm a Zen fucking garden now, it's fantastic!"
She begs her husband not to take laundry from her; he flourishes the last of it into a basket: "Too late! And you're welcome."
Adam smiles at his text message, shaking his head. Blushing. He won't tell who. Cathy offers to take her phone in the other room so they can text each other; like the kids in summer school he doesn't hear jokes like that, because they don't make any sense. Whether she lasts the summer or a hundred years, the world already belongs to them. Everything else is just complaining.
He laughs again, texting madly, and his mother lights up with realization: It's a girl. Only a girl. The first girl.
Adam's ride arrives; he's left his phone on the counter to grab snacks. She reads the messages, and smiles, eyebrows high. She's not cool anymore, even as she pops her legs up onto the counter and dials Mia's voicemail.
"Mia. Hi. Adam's Mom. I... Know this is a little unorthodox. You don't know me, I'm... I don't know who you are or what your intentions are, with my son..."
Cathy realizes how that sounds. Dig deeper.
"But I'm not stupid," she says. "He giggled."
"So, inferences made: He likes you. And I knew it was only a matter of time before the whole girlfriend thing happened, so..."
Cathy sits up straight; too far down to stop now. She's dug a hole you could throw a million couches down, and never fill it up again. The only option is to jump in, and hope he never finds out. Or that if he does, he'll understand. Or when he doesn't, that one day he'll learn gratitude. Hope that communication is not a lost art, and this strange first girl who makes her son giggle will be equal to the task she sets. To be completely honest, which is the greatest form of hope. Before her tears catch up with her.
"Here's the thing. He's sweet. And he's kind of shy. It takes him awhile to talk about what he's feeling and what he's thinking, so... Help him out. And don't make him feel bad if he doesn't make as much money as you, or if he isn't the one at the dinner parties that makes everyone laugh. And don't you dare break his heart."