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a second chance to help you

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Suzanne feels like a mess. She feels like the runner-up at a pageant, where Georgia Martin won and she’s beautiful and confident and happy and free, living the life that she’s always dreamed of, and Suzanne is… a twenty-three year old widow who lives in sweatpants and accessorizes with spit-up.  She and George are trying to talk but Dicky always wants into everything--he’s climbing her lap, hands exploring her hair and mouth and earrings, or running around George’s apartment getting into un-babyproofed cupboards, plucking statues off her coffee table and scattering her books all over the floor.

“I’m so sorry,” Suzanne says, returning a book to the shelf. “We’re being such a bother, I don’t know how you put up with us…”

“Here,” George says, scooping Dicky up off a footstool where he’s trying to climb up into the window. “We are gonna do with you what my mom always did with us.”  Dicky squeals and kicks his legs as she carries him bodily into the kitchen; when she sets him down there’s a brief risk he’ll run, but then she starts pulling saucepans out of the cupboard.  “Yeah, there you go,” she encourages, and hands him a wooden spoon.  He’s happy enough banging the spoon in the pot that she turns away to dig deeply in her drawers, and come out with a potato ricer and a garlic press. “Here, get a load of these,” she says, and smiles at Suzanne. “It’s my fault for not having any baby toys.”

Suzanne tries not to wilt under the weight of how beholden she is to other people’s pity, smiles and picks up her cup of coffee again, as Dicky sits down on the kitchen and stops trying to give her a heart attack.

“Suzie,” George says, coming to stand next to her chair, and drops a hand onto her shoulder, rubbing her back. Suzanne leans against her, but when George moves away she keeps her head up instead of letting it flop over in protest. George sits back down, her hands on the table in front of her. “I feel awful about everything that’s happened to you. That you had to move away from your family and go back to work and… your life sucks right now. But kind of in a guilty way, I’m glad you’re back near me? I get to help you. I get to be around you. Which might… take a little adjustment on my part, because I don’t know what you need yet. But I’m happy to do that, okay?”

Suzanne tries not to cry, and she tries not to think, I used to be so in love with you. “Thank you,” she says wetly.

“What you need, as long as you need it,” George says, and turns her hand like an offering. When Suzanne takes it, she grips it hard. “I’m here for you.”