Rosa is aware of a subtle change in her interactions with David. He is a touch more reserved, cautious, even awkward.
She’s been through this enough times to have a pretty good guess as to why. Someone has told him about her. Each time this happened in the past, she moved on. She never wanted to go through that conversation, the one where someone reassures her that “it’s okay,” she’s fine, but of course, you understand, why things have to change. Rosa remembers her conversation with Franny, months ago, and wonders briefly if her friend shared her revelation with David. But that doesn’t ring true. Franny had emphasized there was nothing to “tolerate,” and therefore nothing to keep secret. But she’d also agreed that the story of Rosa’s life was Rosa’s to tell, and no one else’s.
It was one of the ladies, most likely, Rosa considers. One of those outwardly tolerant, inwardly cruel ladies who make it their business to “protect” the community from whatever makes them, themselves, uncomfortable.
The weekend arrives and Rosa wonders if she will give David her notice, walk away from caring for little Penny, maybe even move on to another town. This thought fills her with sadness and anger. Why should I be the one to go? Why should they win?
On the heels of her outrage comes a deep, bone-weary fatigue. How many times will I go through this, how many times will this story repeat itself?
Rosa bundles up against the December damp and chill and heads out for a walk. In the way of the universe, she soon encounters David with Penny in the stroller. The little girl makes sounds of joy, gurgling and reaching her arms out for her dear Rosa.
Without a second thought, Rosa scoops her out of the stroller and chatters quietly to her. They have their own special language, neither understanding the other’s words but both knowing exactly what is meant.
“I hope you’ll never leave,” David blurts. Rosa, startled, gazes at him, speechless. “Penny loves you and so do I. We would be so sad without you, Rosa. I hope you will always feel part of our family.”
Penny gurgles a hearty agreement, and Rosa buries her face in the little girl’s hood, hiding her tears.