“What’s that?” Leo asked, head cocked like a collie trying to hone in on the voice of his master calling him home. Franny listened and heard a deep buzz pulsing from the pocket of her coat, hung on the rack by the door.
“Oh, my phone.” She dug it out and looked at the caller ID. “It’s Marilyn. Do you mind?” Marilyn’s health was still a bit of a mystery, and Franny had continued to take on sporadic dog walking duty with Precious. Marilyn’s friend Doug had stayed in town, and Marilyn had confided to Franny some of their history, their affair and deep friendship. She often encountered Doug on the days she went to walk Precious, as he came or went from visiting Marilyn. If Doug was arriving, his arms would be full of groceries or books and movies from the library. If he was leaving, his face would hold a secretive, inward smile.
Franny wondered, but dared not ask Marilyn, if his motive was friendship or romance. Was he there to be a stand-by nurse, or a would-be lover?
“Go ahead – I’ll just dish up another bowl of this amazing soup.” Leo smiled and stood, drinking the last dregs of his first serving. “If that’s okay?”
“Of course.” Marilyn had rung off, so Franny pushed redial and stepped into the bedroom.
“Franny? Oh, thank you for calling right back, dear. I hope I’m not interrupting your day too much.”
“Not at all. Just Leo over here, having some lunch, taking a break from the wind.”
“Leo’s there? Good! I can kill two birds with one stone, as they say, although I’ve always hated the violence implied in that old saying.” Franny imagined Marilyn’s wry smile on the other end of the line. (Or signal? There are no lines with cell phones, so that was another old phrase that needed to be retired. But does a signal have more than one “end,” or is it just a blur of particles? Franny shook her head, trying to refocus on the conversation.) “Let me revise that.” Marilyn continued. “I can invite both of you at the same time.”
“Invite us?” Franny walked back into the room where Leo had started on his second helping. “Wait, I’ll put you on speaker.”
“Leo dear, how are you?” Marilyn’s voice sounded odd on the speaker, as if somehow she’d become older, or more serious. “I’m glad you’re there,” she went on without waiting for his answer. “It’s been such a busy day already, and there is so much more to do. A blessed life, isn’t it, when we always have more to do? In any case, I’d better get right to the point. I want to invite you and Franny to – well, as a matter of fact, I’m inviting you to be at my wedding.”