A small dimple appeared when she smiled, giving her an almost elfish look. “Mrs. Welty, you were telling me about your grandson who is in college.” She gave Kevyn a pointed look. “Remind me again where he’s going to school?”
Mrs. Welty visibly brightened at the topic. She described her grandson, the future Nobel Prize winner at some school in the South working on his premed degree, while Kevyn carved out hefty chunks of pie and deposited them on two plates. He nodded and grunted at the appropriate times during Mrs. Welty’s story. Cory devoted more attention than necessary to getting the forkfuls of pie up to her mouth without dropping any. His mom sat, chin in hand, watching Kevyn.
“So, you see,” Mrs. Welty continued in a paper-thin voice, “he will have the grades to get into Harvard Medical where he wants to go next year.”
Kevyn’s fork stopped halfway to his mouth, then he replaced it on the plate. “Harvard. Good school. The best, I hear.”
“Oh, yes, indeed.” Mrs. Welty beamed. “He’s smart enough, that boy is. He’ll be a wonderful doctor, and when he is, I’ll take all my business to him.”
“Great school,” Kevyn repeated, “but cold as hell and really far away.” He shot a look at his mom.
Ginny sighed and turned to Cory. Her blue eyes under the dark eyebrows were intense. “I’m sure you’ve heard that I want Kevyn to go to Harvard? He doesn’t want to entertain the idea. What do you think?”
Cory’s mouth opened but her mind didn’t come up with any words to fill it.
“Mom!” Kevyn said. “Way to make her really uncomfortable.”
Ginny slid her hand along the table and grasped one of Cory’s. Cory started at this sudden, too-familiar gesture. Ginny’s hand was warm and dry. She gave a squeeze and quickly released it.
“Of course, I’m sorry for putting you on the spot, Cory. But did Kevyn tell you that he’s now ninth in his class standings, and that most of the men in his family went to Harvard? He’s a legacy.” Her dark eyebrows rose. “And he has been recruited already for the music program.”
“And right after we finish dessert, I’ll take her upstairs to see the shrine to Harvard in our study, okay, Mom?” Kevyn’s voice had a new edge to it.
They sat around the melting ice cream and abandoned pie plates. Mrs. Welty sat quietly, smoothing the paper napkin on her lap. Cory fidgeted in her seat.
Finally, Ginny leaned back in her chair and laughed. “I’m a pushy mom, Cory, and I drive Kevyn crazy, you can see.” She grabbed his arm, pulled him toward her, and planted a kiss on his cheek.
Kevyn gave her a small smirk and an eye roll. “It’s like you always said, Mom. Pursue what you’re good at . . . and you excel at being a pain.”
Cory stiffened, expecting Kevyn’s mom to rise from her chair and demand he show her more respect or to storm off to another room in a fury. Instead, she pulled the ice cream carton toward her, leaving a white smear across the orange tablecloth in its wake, and dipped into it with her spoon.
She smiled at him through a mouthful of ice cream. “Yup, I’m a real ballbuster when I set my mind to something.”
Cory almost choked.
Ginny caught her reaction. “I’m sorry, Cory, you must think we are a bunch of foul-mouthed rednecks. And I never asked you anything about your plans. Do you know where you want to go to school and what you want to do?”
Ginny tilted the carton to scoop along the bottom edges, then looked up, waiting for an answer. Cory didn’t have one. No one had ever asked her what her plans were, not since she was a little kid and people would ask what she wanted to be when she grew up. Now here it was again, that same question about what to do with her life. Like Ms. Jankowski and her “calling.” It seemed everyone else around her had definite ideas about what they did or didn’t want to do. She blurted out, “I have no idea.”
“An excellent answer,” Ginny said, pointing the dripping spoon at her. “Kids your age shouldn’t have any idea what they want to do. They need to go to school with an open mind, try out everything, and discover what their path in life should be.” She grabbed Kevyn’s hand. “As long as you go to the right school, that is.”
Kevyn dropped his forehead to the table and groaned, “I give up.”
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