Excerpt from Don't Forget to Smile

   
In front of the union hall was a little green MGB. There was only one of those in town.
     Joe parked, turned off the engine, set the brake, took a breath and got out of the Cherokee and came around the MGB, watching Tory get out.
     "You're out early," he said.
     "I couldn't sleep." She was looking around, almost as if she were nervous. Joe took the lid off his coffee cup and offered it to her even though she almost never drank anything with caffeine. She shook her head. It was cold for this time of year, and the steam from the cup formed a soft, wispy cloud.
     "Me neither," he answered.
     "I never should have said those things about your son."
     The foam cup was warm. Joe set it down on the hood of Tory's car. It took him a moment to balance it there. "You don't have to apologize." That sounded stiff, cold. "Yes, I was mad at you," he admitted, "but that doesn't change the fact that I love you."
     At last he was telling her he loved her, and where were they? Outside the union hall, across the street from the Daylight DoNuts and the Exxon Station. Tory's face was expressionless, that perfect television oval, her eyes, the brilliant green contact lenses, were polite and waiting. She was miserable.
     "You know that I love you."
     "I know that you think you do," she admitted.
     "But that if I knew the real you, I wouldn't?"
     She didn't answer. She didn't have to. Of course, that was what she thought. She probably didn't think anyone had ever loved the real her, only the dressed-up, curled, smiling, one-piece bathing suit with matching high-heels her.
     Joe started to put his arm around her and then noticed that Daylight DoNuts had just released a few people, most of whom were named Brigham, and at least one of whom was also named Joe. He didn't know what he was doing, but he knew he didn't need his family for audience.
     "Come on," he touched her arm. "Let's go in."
 
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