"What?" I said. "Cat got your tongue? That's a first."
"Oh, Miss Isabelle, I know you wouldn't be interested. Never mind."
"Okay," I said. I was never one to pick something out of people that they didn't want to tell.
"Well, since you begged me " She grinned. "Stevie's got this concert at school Thursday night. He's got a soloon the trumpet. You know he plays the trumpet?"
"How could I miss it, Dorrie? You've been telling me about it for three years, since he auditioned."
"I know, Miss Isabelle. I'm kind of over-the-top proud when it comes to the kids. Anyway, would you like to come with me? To see him play?"
I thought about it for a minute. Not because there was any question whether I wanted to go, but because I was a little overcome. It took too long for me to find my voice.
"It's okay, Miss Isabelle. Don't feel like you have to. My feelings won't be hurt and"
"No! I'd love to. In fact, I can't think of anything I'd rather do Thursday."
She laughed. It's not like I ever went anywhere, and Thursday was a boring night for television that year.
Since then, it hasn't been uncommon for her to take me along when the kids have special events. Heaven knows, their father usually forgets to show up. Dorrie's mother usually comes, too, and we have nice little chats, but I always wonder what she thinks about my being there. She studies me with a shade of curiosity, as though she can't fathom any reason for Dorrie and me to be friends.
But there's still so much Dorrie doesn't know. Things nobody knows. If I were going to tell anyone, it would likely be her. It would definitely be her. And I think it's time. More than anyone, I trust her not to judge me, not to question the way things happened and the way things turned out.
So here I am, asking her to drive me all the way from Texas to Cincinnati, halfway across the country, to help me tend to things. I'm not too proud to admit I can't do this alone. I've done plenty for myself, by myself, as long as I can remember.
But this? No. This I can't do alone. And I don't want to anyway. I want my daughter; I want Dorrie.
Copyright © 2013 by Julie Kibler
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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