“You know Dad’s not coming, right, Mom?”
Eveline pursed her lips and frowned. “He said he’d be here.”
Jack rolled his eyes. “Yeah, sure.”
She sighed, straightening her older son’s tie. It had tiny silver dragons on a black background. “I’m here.”
One side of his mouth quirked up into a smirk. “And he’s not. You should have an affair. It’s not like he’d notice.”
“I think you should, too, Mom.” Brian grinned behind her, holding out Jack’s mortarboard with the tassel now attached. “Find some guy who’ll stick around and likes to play baseball.”
“Boys, that’s not funny.” Despite with her stern words, she echoed Brian’s grin. “What’s important is that I’m very proud of you, Jack. I know you wanted to be Valedictorian, but getting accepted to Stanford is a big deal.”
“Yeah, Super-nerds are super.”
Jack sniffed. “You’re just jealous.”
Brian stuck his tongue out. “Not. Get back to me when you can throw a ball more than ten feet.”
“Alright, alright. Enough of that.” Eveline stepped back while Jack zipped up his graduation robe and sat the mortarboard on his head. Pulling out her phone, she took a picture of him posing for her with a confident smile, and stifled back what she wanted to say, knowing it would only embarrass him. “You look handsome, and I’m sure Jennifer will swoon in your arms.”
Jack grinned and put an arm around his brother’s shoulders. They headed for the front door. “Aren’t you going to ask if I have protection?”
“Should I? Do I need to nag you about that?” Eveline picked up her purse as she followed behind them. “I could plan to text you about it every day when you go off to school. Even better, I could call you at midnight to ask.”
Both boys laughed. “Nah, it’s cool, Mom.” Jack stopped and hugged her, making her fight back tears. “You’re the best Mom ever. I promise to call if I drink and need a ride tonight, and to not let any of my friends drive drunk. I also promise not to get Jenn knocked up tonight.”
“I love you, both of you.” She grabbed Brian’s hand and dragged him into the hug. “Come on, let’s get it all out here so Jack can be manly and stoic for his friends.”
They shared the hug for a long few seconds, then broke apart and walked out the front door. Jack gave Eveline his arm and they walked together down to the street, Jack waving proudly to the neighbors. It took them ten minutes to reach the school, where Brian and Eveline left Jack to line up with his fellow graduates. The good seats were already taken, but Brian promised to slip up to the front and get some pictures when it started.
Eveline sat with a program clutched in her hands, craning her neck around to watch for her husband. He missed everything, but surely this would get him here? Brian put a hand on her shoulder and shook his head. Patting his hand, she sighed and nodded. For the thousandth time in her life, she stopped looking, put him out of her mind, and enjoyed the event.
Lee French is a member of the Edgewise Words Inn staff. She has published several fantasy and science fiction novels.