Emma’s holding the door and looking back at me with an impatient, frustrated look on her face. She’s got her arms crossed against her chest and is shifting her weight from one foot to the other. Clearly, she’s been waiting much too long for me to show up. I try to explain the reasons I’ve left her standing there: full-time job, adjunct teaching position, taking care of the “practicalities of life,” but they fall on deaf ears. She’s not buying any of it.
She nods her head toward the interior of the room. Laura and Raza are sitting at the table, finishing up a hand of cards. Emma has important news to tell them, but I’ve left her waiting, waiting, waiting for me. I can almost hear her hiss at me, “It’s about time! Where the heck have you been?”
In my defense, I haven’t abandoned Emma and her friends completely. I’ve been mulling things over in my brain, trying out scenarios and formulating the consequences if “this” or “that” happens. I’ve been wandering around in her world, working on setting details — the weather, the wildlife, and the good/bad guys.
Laura’s glad that I’ve left her with Raza for so long and looks disappointed at my arrival. She’s got a crush on him and would probably play cards all night if it meant she could have him all to her flirting self.
I apologize to Emma and promise that I won’t leave her alone like that ever again (I secretly cross my fingers behind my back because you never know about life, but at the same time I vow to make a concerted effort to attend to the task at hand). These kids are trying to solve a mystery and it’s not fair for me to hold them back. They’ll lose their momentum, their train of thought. They’ll begin to feel detached from what is happening around them. They might give up!
No, I won’t let that happen. I’m back. I’ve taken care of the demands that won’t be ignored (bills, car repairs, buying cat food) and now I can focus on this great, Gothic mansion in northern Minnesota and all the cool stuff that’s happening there.