'I'd like to tell you something. Do you mind if I came in?'
The last words are merely rhetoric, as Grace is already making herself comfortable in his kitchen. 'Why should I?' his irony escapes her, as usual.
She shouldn't be here, of course. In fact, she should be doing millions of other things right now, instead of paying visits to her English teacher. Just like millions of other high school graduates. Such as preparing for her final exams, bickering with her stepsister and her mom, and the rest of the world, buying (and adjusting) her prom dress. Or writing a short story, for a change. After having analyzed exactly why 'So much water so close to home,' or something else by Carver, or by Chekhov etc. he has given her, is so great. Or why it is not. Grace is an irreverent and ruthless admirer; she dissects her fascinations to find out what's inside. He has an uneasy feeling she may be even applying the same scrutiny to him.
None of this makes him feel very comfortable, when he sees her like this at his door. But now he is so beaten up and stupefied by his correction work, that he is simply glad to have a break. He looks outside, sees her car parked in front of the house and follows her into his kitchen.
Grace's dress, light colored, short skirted, is screaming summer, freedom, going to college. She brings along the usual air of clarity and neatness, making him believe she is somehow immune to all dirt and imperfection. In a way, she is. He immediately smells how stale his kitchen is, how dusty his towels and curtains. Grace pours herself a glass of tap water. Fortunately, at least his sideboard is empty, for Grace is capable of doing his dishes. He's got a snow white on a visit, and he feels as tired and untended as all of the seven dwarfs together. Very adequate.
'I wouldn't do that, if I were you,' he says, pointing to the glass she's holding.
'I…I don't like the idea of someone getting poisoned in my kitchen. Give me a second.'
'Oh,' she observes her glass with suspicion.
He dawdles to the corner where he keeps with his water and food supplies (surprisingly convenient), discovers all the bottles are gone, remembers he still has one in the fridge. After removing the curtains above the sideboard, he discovers a bright sunny day, and blinks like a mole. Grace laughs, helps him with the water he takes out of the fridge. He notices a delicate lace trimming on her exquisite-looking silk dress.
'Are you sure it is not your prom dress?'
Oh, thanks,' she takes it as a compliment. ' I'm going to my stepfather's reception.' She counters his glance and grins.
'By the way…I am not sure I'm gonna make it to the proms,' she puts her glass on the table. 'The thing is, - and this is the reason I'm here, - I might be moving to Australia. Sidney. I mean, my stepfather might be moving, - and…'
'Wait…Your stepfather might be doing what?' he rises his eyebrows in comic surprise, and she starts to giggle like a little girl. Meanwhile, a distant part of his mind tries to calculate the possible impact of what she just has said, if it's true and definite.