Period of Adjustment
Juliet sat across from Rick as he lifted the spoonful of ice cream to his mouth and ate it with a smile-and-a-nod. Juliet looked down at her double scoop of butter pecan, waiting for it to get just the right level of melty, hoping the haze of awkwardness between her and her newly-widowed step-father would lift soon. They were celebrating her thirteenth birthday – her first birthday without her mother present – and she was in desperate need of a favor. Rick grimaced as he looked at the face of his step-daughter and excused himself from the ice cream parlor, “for a moment”. The ice cream softened, Juliet’s mood lightened, and she devoured everything in the bowl, licking it clean as Rick returned with a proud smile. Upon returning to the car, Juliet discovered a paper bag on the floor of the passenger seat from the grocery store next to the parlor, filled with a medley of pads and tampons. They never discussed it, she just left an empty box in the bathroom when she needed more.