As their time with Jillian continues, she gets progressively more inebriated. This leads to more sarcasm and vitriol toward her father. Abigail begins to wonder exactly what the point of it is. Neil hasn’t contributed much to the conversation, occasionally affirming some fact Jillian provides or deflecting some insult.
An hour or so after they arrive, a tall, shapely woman with auburn hair and green eyes steps into the room. She gives everyone a pleasant smile then folds her hands in front of her and addresses Jillian.
“I see your guests are here.”
Jillian glances at her, then indicates Neil and Abigail.
“Trudy, you know Neil,” Jillian says. “This is Abigail. She’s the spawn of some woman Dr. Hawkins knocked up when I was in first grade.”
“Excuse me?” Abigail says, giving Jillian a nasty look. “That woman is my mother.”
“Jillian!” Trudy says. “That’s a horrible thing to say about someone.”
“Whatever,” Jillian says.
Neil gives her an angry look. “Jill, I told you to behave yourself. Do not take this out on Abby.”
Jillian sighs and finishes, “Sorry. I get a little worked up when I talk about Daddy Dearest. I’m sure your mother’s a wonderful person.”
“She is, as a matter of fact.”
“Even though she knowingly slept with a married man.” Abigail starts to rise but Jillian throws up her hands and says, “Who lied to her about leaving his wife and kids. I know, I know.”
Abigail sits back but remains on edge.
“If you’re going to start being nasty, I’m leaving and not speaking to you,” Trudy says. She turns to go.
Jillian springs out of her chair and intercepts Trudy. “I said I was sorry.”
“You could act like you mean it,” Trudy tells her. “From what you’ve told me, this can’t be easy for her.”
Jillian gives a frustrated sigh, then puts on as pleasant a smile as she can muster.
“Abigail,” she says, “Abby. I sincerely apologize for making fun of your mother. I hardly know you and should have waited until we’re better acquainted before I start treating you like crap.”
“That’s an apology?” Abigail says.
“I think it’s the best you’re going to get,” Neil says. “This is the most vulnerable I’ve ever seen her.”
Jillian returns to her seat. Trudy surveys the room.
“I can’t believe you’ve not offered them any food. I’m sure you’re both hungry.”
“I brought them drinks,” Jillian says.
Abigail and Neil look at one another.
Abigail says, “If you’re offering, I wouldn’t say no to some food.”
“Me neither,” Neil says.
“I’ll bring out a tray.”
As Trudy passes Jillian she swats her arm.
“I brought them drinks,” Jillian repeats.
Trudy returns a short while later with finger sandwiches and some fruit and sliced vegetables. Her presence seems to have a calming effect on Jillian, who curtails her drinking somewhat and seems to make more of an effort to be nice. Still, her stories about her family have a definite edge to them.
Finally, sometime in the early afternoon, they wrap up things. Trudy says her goodbyes, inviting them to visit again, then disappears into the back of the townhouse. Jillian walks them to the door and unlocks all the locks.
“It’s been an experience meeting you,” Abigail says, extending her hand.
Without warning, Jillian suddenly gives Abigail a long, tight hug. Releasing her, Jillian says with much sarcasm, “Welcome to the family.”
Abigail and Neil exit and head back to his car. Inside, they sit there for several minutes without speaking. Finally, Neil says, “What did you think?”
Abigail looks at Neil and shakes her head.
“Why did you even bring me here, Neil? She’s the most hateful person I’ve ever had the displeasure to sit in a room with. We have absolutely nothing in common. She makes your father sound like some sort of monster, and honestly, looking at it from her perspective, I find it hard to disagree. Heaven forbid I grew up in his household. I might have turned out just like —” She stops as a light goes on in her head. “Aaaah!”
“Now you get it,” Neil says. “Let’s get something to eat before we head back.”
“Sure. Can we take the scenic route?”
“That could take a few days,” Neil says.
“I’ve got time if you do.”
“When do I not have time?”
He cranks the car and they head out.