“What happened?” Jacob touched Jill’s arm.
“Katy has to use the restroom,” Jill said. “I’m really, really sorry. She takes forever and …”
“I wondered where it came from,” Jacob said.
“What?” Jill was so surprised by his statement that she jerked out of her Trevor-related panic.
“Well, as a guy, you wait forever for women in the bathroom. Waiting for Valerie? My sister? I’d practically evolve into a new species before she came out again.” Jacob smiled. “I didn’t realize three-year-olds curled their hair. Does Katy have a propane curling iron too?”
Jill couldn’t help but laugh. She shook her head. “A new species?”
“You’ll see. You’ll have the opportunity to wait for Val and you’ll know what I mean.” Jacob laughed. “How about this? I’ll sit right here and you guys can go in.”
“Will you be here …?”
“There is no chance, not one, of me ending this non-date,” Jacob smiled. “I’m having a great time!”
“Me too,” Jill said.
“I might get some food. Do you want anything?”
“French fries! French fries!” Katy said.
“Anything else?” Jacob asked.
“We can share a hamburger or chicken strips,” Jill said. “There’s juice and water in the backpack.”
She pointed to her backpack, which he had insisted on wearing.
“I wondered what felt cool on my back!” Jacob said. “I’ll meet you here.”
With one last look at Jacob, Jill and Katy went into the restroom. And Katy took forever. Using this time as alone time with her mother, Katy reviewed all the animals she had seen and the ones she wanted to see. She asked questions about Jacob. Miraculously, Katy even went potty. After a quick hand washing, they were out the door.
Jill scanned the area for Jacob.
He wasn’t there.
Jill had to bite her lip to keep from crying. The one moment she let her guard down to have a good time, look what happened? He left.
Feeling Katy tug her hand, she looked down to see Katy pointing. Jacob sat at a table talking to two octogenarian zoo volunteers. Jill hadn’t seen him behind the volunteers. She felt a wave of relief.
“Here she is!” the elderly man said. He kneeled down to Katy’s level. “How are you, Katy? I’m Edward and this is my wife, Mary.”
Katy shook his extended hand.
“I bet you’re hungry,” Edward said standing. “We don’t want to keep you. We wanted to meet Celia’s granddaughter and say hello to Jake. We’ve seen Delphie, but we haven’t seen Jake since Celia died.”
In that moment, Jill realized she knew Celia. Like a scene from a movie, Jill remembered meeting Jacob at Pete’s Kitchen all those years ago. Every detail, from how frail his mother was to the illegal jolt of attraction she felt for Jacob, flashed across her brain. Shaking her head to clear the memory, Jill wandered to the table.
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1 continues tomorrow…
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