Dr. Patel’s body relaxed, slooped forward like a sprinter after finishing a race. He then walked over to one of the two empty chairs in the small circle, and lowered himself down to sit.
Jane felt everyone’s eyes turning towards her. She understood why — Dr. Patel had finished his diagnosis by leaving her with a choice, but she wouldn’t be able to express her gratitude until she found a way to break this awkward silence. She was about to say that she wanted some time to think about Dr. Patel’s offer, when her mother, sitting to her right, asked, “Where’s Brad?”
“Yeah.” Gary’s attempt to hide his disappointment was unsuccessful. He glanced quickly at the one remaining empty chair. “I thought he was coming.”
There was no holding back the truth any longer. “Brad’s not here — ” jane hated the hesitation in her voice — “because I didn’t invite him.”
Jane felt her mother’s breath draw in, and saw her look quickly at Dr. Patel. “Didn’t you tell — ”
“No.” Dr. Patel made eye comtact with Jane. “Brad was not on the list of people that Jane gave her permission for me to call.”
Hilda Summers stood up quickly, looked down at her daughter with frustration. “Brad loves — ”
“He proposed to me last week.” She sensed everyone’s mouth open in surprise, save for Dr. Patel.
Jane reached up, clasped her mother’s shoulder, pulled her back down to the chair. Only one more truth needed to come out. “My — delusion.” She nodded at Dr. Patel. “What we’ve been talking about all evening. My waking up one morning, and everything being different. About me feeling that the world had suddenly turned upside down.”
A final sigh for courage. “Brad doesn’t know. About any of it.”