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“Yes, Tee. You are” Bette replied sincerely and for some reason that hit Tina in all the feels and she blinked away her tears. “Ellie probably misses Jack, Honey. Wasn’t their anniversary a couple weeks ago? He’s probably on her mind”
“Maybe” Tina said, quietly. “You’re probably right.”
The waiter came and cleared their plates, they turned down the offer for dessert, it was getting late. Tina started to rise slowly, her eyes fixated on something across the room. Bette signed the check and glanced over to where Tina was looking to see Ellie wandering the restaurant, confused, unsure where her seat was.
Suddenly, Ellie stopped and sat with a couple across the way, surprising them as she took the empty seat between them. They looked at each other in shock, baffled as Ellie sipped from the water by her plate.
Tina was half way across the room by the time Bette processed what she just saw and she stood slowly, watching with concern as Tina went to speak to Ellie, apologizing to the couple and walking Ellie back to their table.
“What a funny coincidence that you turned up here!” Ellie was saying as Tina grabbed her purse and Ellie’s handbag. She had tears in her eyes when she looked at Bette as they left, Ellie continuing to talk about what a nice surprise it was to see her granddaughter and her lady friend. And on the same night she was having dinner with friends too!
“That couple, they didn’t know who she was…” Tina told Bette when she closed Ellie’s car door.
As they walked down the hall to her apartment, Ellie seemed to snap back to herself, thanking them both for a lovely dinner and hugging them tightly to her, as was her custom.
“You two have something very special, it just warms my heart to see you together.” She said as she fished her keys out of her handbag.
They said their goodbyes and Tina stood there as the door shut, unmoving.
“Tee?” Bette asked, hesitant to interrupt her thoughts.
Tina rubbed her forehead, then faced her girlfriend. “Should I stay with her tonight? It was weird, right?”
“You do whatever you feel you need to, Honey.”
“She’s aging, Bette. I… I don’t know what to do.” She looked at the door again then back at Bette. “I’m so worried about her.”
“We could get her evaluated. Tee? An MRI or something?”
“Yes, yes. That’s a good idea.” Tina reached for Bette and hugged her, tightly. They stood that way for a long while, Bette’s arms wrapped around her girlfriend, her nose buried in the lilac scented hair.
Out in the car, Bette strapped on her seat belt and started the engine, then paused. “Hand me your cell phone, Honey…”
Tina did, a questioning look in her eyes. Bette entered the passcode and dialed Ellie’s number on speaker phone. When Ellie answered, she spoke into the receiver.
“Grannie Ellie, it’s Bette and Tina. We wanted to wish you goodnight and thank you for a lovely evening.”
“Oh, my stars! You two are the sweetest. I had a lovely time. Thank you.”
“Ellie, it’s Tina. Good night. Love you.”
“I love you too Christina and you as well, Bette. Use up all your kindness, girls. Tomorrow is a new day!”
Bette hung up and handed the phone back to a tearful Tina, who kissed her on the cheek.
“I knew you wouldn’t be able to sleep if you didn’t hear her voice again. She sounds ok, for now. Right? Tomorrow we can call a doctor.”
“Thank you, Bette. Sometimes you take my fucking breath away.” Tina whispered, pulling away and giving Bette a watery smile. “Take me home…”
And Bette wasted no time driving them home, Tina’s head on her shoulder.