“Why did you hustle us out of there so fast?” Franny asked, although she was relieved to go. She meant Leo, but Precious was also straining at the leash to leave.
Leo didn’t answer. Once they were down the street, in front of the old green house where he lived in the basement apartment, Allison stepped off the porch to greet them.
“Everything okay?” Clearly, this was not the intimate group of a few minutes ago. They all showed signs of unsettledness.
“Fine,” Leo said. “Franny, I will call you later, okay? I promise.” He took her hand. “We have more to talk about. I know that. And we will.”
“Okay. Fine. That’s fine. Leo, I don’t understand why you have to be so mysterious. But I do understand, very clearly, that you have decided we are done with this conversation. So fine. Come on, Precious.” She tugged the little dog’s leash. “Allison, good to see you.”
And they left, kicking leaves in their wake.
Allison turned to Leo. “That went well,” she said. He stared after Franny and Precious. “Go after them,” Allison said. “You know you want to. You know you should.”
“I have something I have to do, first,” Leo said, still watching the two forms getting smaller and smaller as they retreated.
Allison squinted up at him. There were times he seemed nearly a foot taller than she was. Maybe he was that tall, and most of the time he stooped. Or maybe it all depended on her perspective. Right now, his eye level seemed barely an inch or two above hers.
“If you always have something you have to do first, you never get to the things that mean the most.” Saying this, Allison was reminded of most of the last two years of her own life. “Just once, Leo, you should try going straight to what you have to do second.”
She walked up the rickety porch steps. “I have a carpet to remove,” she said to no one in particular. “That’s my second thing I have to do, and I might as well start now.”