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The Nanny Diaries Part 32

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"No," I say, craning my neck to see down to the water, but Mr. X and his new friend have disappeared.

"I'm sorry,look,I've gottago?

"No.Don't hangup.Please. Pleasejusttellmewhereheis,"shebegstearfully.

I crane my head around. "Wait a sec." I hold the phone down low at my hip and walk swiftly up to the house and into the first French door off the porch. I close it shut behind me, keeping Grayer steadily in mygaze. I take adeepbreathbeforeliftingthephone back up to my ear. "Look, I'm not really sure what to tell you. Not to be trite, but I really just work here."

"Whatis hestill doingupthere?Hewon't answer hisphone, i_?



"He's, he's..." I don't knowwhatto say. "Playing tennis ... andeatingdoughnuts,I guess?"

"Buthehates her,hehatesgoingawaywith her. Hecan't behavingfun?

"Well, yeah,no, hedoesn't reallyseemtobehavingfun."

"Really?" she asks. I look out the window at the party, such as it is: balding paunchy men and their second or third wives, who're just biding time till their next peel or tuck, all oblivious to their children running back and forth on the lawn, savoring a few moments away from their monsters. And the nannies, all sittingquietly onthedampgra.s.s, awaitingtheirnextorder.

"No,"I say, "n.o.bodyishaving anyfun."

"What?Whatdidyousay?"

"Look, I just have to ask, because you seem so intent on being here. What is it here that you want?

Whataboutanyofthisisappealingtoyou?" I gestureoutatthewindow.

"You don't know what you're talking about. What are you? Eighteen?" Her tone changes as she sobers upfromher crying jag. "I don't seehowthisisanyofyourbusiness."

"Oh, oh, you know what? I don't think this is any of my business, either!" I want to hurl the phone straight through the window and have it land right in Mrs. X's Perrier. "You came to my house. How much more of my problem could you have made this? Having a covert affair, okay, means n.o.body knows about it. You do not get to have a crew of little helpers." I stare at the phone. "Are you still there?"

"Yes."

"Well, forwhatever it's worth,I've been all upandinherefor THE NANNY.

ninemonths,asinas agirl couldget, andI cantellyou: thereisnothinggoodhere?

"ButI?

"Anddon't thinkit's all her,either,becauseit's not. Shewas youonce,you know. Soyou canplay all the Cole Porter you want, turn the heat up as high as it will go, but in the end you'll spend your life chasing him down, just like everybody else in that apartment." I look back out the window at the children playing tagonthelawn.

"My," she says, "that's quite an impressive moral a.n.a.lysis from the girl who stole eight hundred dollars fromme?

Suddenly Grayer trips and goes flying through the air. My breath catches and it seems to take hours for himtoland.

"Are youlistening?" sheasks. "h.e.l.lo?Nanny?I saidI fullyexpect?

"What, do I have to say it in Spanish? Get out of this relationship while you still have a pulse!And this advice is worth way more than eight hundred dollars, so you just consider us even." I click the phone shut. There is an interminable pause and then a bloodcurdling wail. The entire party is struck silent, no onemoves.

I run out to the porch and down onto the lawn. I weave through the immobile linen shifts and khaki pants,immediatelylocatingMrs. Xinthepartingcrowd.

"Nannnyyy!" he cries. Mrs. X gets there first. "Nannnyyy!" She tries to bend down to him, but he hits out at her and flings his bleeding arm around mylegs. "No! 1 want Nanny." I sit down on the gra.s.s and pullhimontomylap.Mrs. Benningtoncomes over withthefirst-aid kit, whiletheotheradults lookon.

"Here,whydon't you letMommy take a lookat.i.t," I say. Heholds out his arm, allowing herto bandage it, butcurlshis faceawayfrom herintomyshoulder.

"Sing thebottle song,"heasks tearfullyasMrs. Xawkwardlyappliesiodine.

"'Ninety-nine bottles of beer on thewall,' " I singquietly, while rubbinghis back. "'Ninety-nine bottles...o...b..er ...'"

"'Takeonedownandpa.s.sitaround,'" hemumblesintomyshoulder.

"Where's myhusband?" shesuddenlyasks, scanningthecrowd just as Mr. X roundsthe hedgerowwith his arm around Caroline's friend. They're both a little flushed and clearly hadn't been antic.i.p.ating that all eyes wouldbeonthemwhentheyreturned.

I hold G's bandaged arm as he swishes in his bath, a reminder not to get the Batman Band-Aid wet. He leans his head against my hand. "I'm going to get a boat when I get big. It's going to be blue and have a poolonit."

"I hope it'll bewarmer thantheoneattheclub."I washhis backwiththewashclothinmyfreehand.

"Oh,man.It willbesohot!Like thisbath!Andyoucancome andswim with me."

"Thanks for the invitation, Grove. You know, when you're all grown-up you'll have lots of friends and I'll bereal old?

"Toooldtoswim? No way, Nanny.You liar."

"You're right, G, I'm lying, count me in for the cruise." I drop my chin to the cool porcelain beside his head.

"You couldbring Sophie, too! Shecould have her own pool.A poolfor all the animals.And Katie could bringherguineapig.Okay,Nanny?" "What about your puppy, Grove? Have you thought of a name for her yet?" I ask, hoping if we name hershemightnotgetleftintheyard all dayagain.

"I want aguineapig, Nanny.Ellie canhavethepuppy."

"Theyalreadyhave adog,Grove."

"Fine,nodogsontheboat. Onlyguineapigs.Andwe'll all swim foreverandever andever."Hetugshis plasticaircraft carrier incircles.

I nuzzlemynoseinhis hairandrestmyeyes whilehefinishesparkinghis boats. "It's a date."

I wait until Grayer is completely asleep and Elizabeth has turned in before going down to the living room. Mr. and Mrs. X are reading the paper, sitting silently across from each other in the worn armchairs oneithersideof thecouch.Bothofthemtilt theirsectionstowardtheflickeringsidelampsin thedarkenedroom. I take a seatinthemiddle oftheemptycouch,butneitherX botherstolookup.

Taking a deep breath, andin themost supplicatingvoice I can muster,I say, "Urn, I was just wondering ifitwouldbepossibleif,insteadof driving backonSat.u.r.day?

Mrs. X lowersher paper. "I'm pregnant," shesayssteadily.

Hispaperdoesn't move. "Whatdidyousay?" heasks.

"I'm pregnant," shesays in asteely,even tone.

Hispaperdrops. "What?"

"Pregnant."

"Are yousure?" Helooksather,his eyes wide,his voiceshaking.

"Once you've been pregnant you know how to recognize the signs." She smiles slowly at him, laying downherFullHouse.

"MyG.o.d,"hesays, atrickleof sweatformingonhis brow.

"Andtomorrowatbreakfastwe'll tellyour mother."

They stare at each other, tacitly acknowledgingthe arrangement she has made on their behalf. I pray to fall betweenthecouchcushions.

"Now,Nanny."Sheturnshercoldsmiletome. "WhatisitI candoforyou?"

I stand. "You know what? It's totally not a big deal. We can talk about this later.And congratulations," I offerasanafterthought.

"No,thisis a perfecttime,isn't it, honey?" Shesmiles athim.

Hejuststaresbackather.

"Sit down, Nanny,"shesays.

I swallow. "Well, it's just that I have to find a new apartment this weekend, so if there's any way that you could drop me off at the ferry Friday night on the way to your party ... It's just that there'll be so much traffic on Sat.u.r.day and I haven't even started packing and I need to have everything boxed by MondayandI wasjustthinking,youknow,ifit's not anytrouble ... Ofcourse,ifyouneedmeI'm happy tostay. justthought..."

Mrs. X fixesme with a steelygaze. "Well, I have abetter idea,Nanny,whydon't you justleavetonight?

Mr. X candrive youtothe ferry. Elizabeth's here. e're reallycovered."

"Oh,no, really,I don't needtoleavetonight. I justthought,youknow,theremightbesomuchtrafficon Sat.u.r.day. I'm happy to stay, I want to stay? My heart pounds as I become fully cognizant of what is at stake. I am staggeredbythevision ofGrover, wakingin afewhours,terrifiedandalone.

Mrs. X cutsme off. "Don't be silly. Honey,when's thenextferry?"

Heclearshis throat."I'm notsure."

"Well, youcanjustdrive Nannyover tothedock. heygopretty regularly."

Hestands. "I'll getmyjacket."Andexits.

Sheturnsbacktome. "Now,whydon't yougoupandpack?"

"Really, Mrs. X, I don't need to leave tonight. I just wanted to have my apartment sorted before Monday."

She smiles. "Frankly, Nanny, I just don't feel that your heart's in it anymore and I think Grayer can sensethat, too.We need someone who can give Grayer their full commitment, don't you agree? I mean, for the money we're paying you, with the new baby coming, we should really have someone more professional."Shestands. "I'll give you ahand,soyoudon't wakeGrayer."

She follows me toward the stairs. I walk up ahead of her, frantically running through scenarios that mightgiveme achancetosay good-bye to him. She comes behind me into the small room and stands between our beds with crossed arms, watching me carefully as I hastily stuff my things into my bag, awkwardly moving around her in thecrampeds.p.a.ce.

Grayer moansinhis sleepandrolls over. I achetowakehim.

I finish collecting my things in her shadow and sling my bag up over my shoulder, mesmerized by the sight of Grover's hand in a tightfist floppedover theside of the bed, the Batman Band-Aid sticking out beneathhispushed-up pajamasleeve.

She gestures for me to walk past her to the door. Before I can help it, I reach out to smooth the damp hair off his forehead. She grabs my hand an inch from his face and whispers through clenched teeth, "Betternottowakehim." Shemaneuversmetothestairs.

As I startdown aheadof her myeyes fill with tears, causing the stairs to pitch beneath me and I have to grip thebanister tosteadymyself. Sheb.u.mps againstthebackofmybag.

"I... I... I justwanted?Myvoice iscoming outinlittle gulps. I turnuptofaceher.

"What?" she hisses, leaning menacingly forward. I pull back, the weight of my bag drawing me off balance as I start to fall. She instinctively reaches out and grabs my arm, swinging me against the banister asI rightmyself. We faceeachother,eye toeye onthesamestep. "What?" shechallengesme.

"She wasintheapartment," I say. "I justthoughtyoushouldknow,I mean,I?

"You f.u.c.king child." She comes back at me in this two-and-a-half-foot s.p.a.ce with all theforce of years of suppressedrageand humiliation. "You. Have no idea.Whatyou're talkingabout. Is thatclear?" Each wordfeelslike apunch. "And I'd bevery careful. If I were you.Howyouregardour family?

Mr. X honks the car from the driveway, startling the puppy, who begins a round of sharp barking from thekitchen.Aswe reachthe bottomofthestairsthenoisewakesGrayer. "Nanny!" hecries out. "NAAANNYYY!!"

Mrs. X pushes past me. "Ugh, thatdog,"she mutters, marchingto the kitchen. She shoves the swinging dooropenandthedogboundsout,yappingfiercelyather.

"Just takeit,"shesays, roughlyliftingthepuppyupbyherribcage.

"I couldn't?

"NANNY,COMEHERE. I NEEDTHELIGHTON. NANNY,WHEREAREYOU?".

"I said, take it." Mrs. X. thrusts her out at me. Her paws flail for solid ground, forcing me to instinctively receive her before she's dropped. Mrs. X jerks the front door open, grabbing her purse off the side table. She pulls her checkbook out and scribbles furiously while I look over toward the stairs. "Here."Shehandsmethecheck.

I turnand walk past her onto the gravel driveway, as Grayer's increasinglyhysterical cries echo out into thedarkness.

"NAAAANNNNYYYY!INEEEEEEDYOOOOUl/171717!"

"Have a good trip!" she calls out from the doorway as I make my way shakily down the path lit by the Rover's headlights,willing mykneesnottogive out.

I getinthefrontseatandtrytosteadymyhandsasI pulltheseatbeltacrossthepuppyandmyself. "Oh," Mr. X says, looking at her. "Yeah, I guess Grayer's a little young. Maybe in a few years." He starts thecar and peels out of thedriveway, and before I can lookback to fix the house in mymind, it is eclipsedbythewoodsasheracesthecaracrosstheempty countryroads. He pulls into the deserted ferry dock and I open the door to get out. "Well," he says as if it's just occurredtohim. "GoodluckwiththeMCATs. hey're a killer!" a.s.soonasthedoorslams, hepeelsoutoftheparkinglotand THE NANNY DIARIES drives away. I walk slowly into the nearly empty ferry terminal and look around for the schedule. The nextferryisn't foranhour.

ThepuppywrigglesundermyarmandI scanthewaitingroomforanythingthatcouldserveas a carrier.

I go over to the guy who's closing up the Dunkin' Donuts counter and ask him for a bunch of plastic bags and some string to fasten a makeshift leash. I pull all my clothes out of my tote, shove them in the plasticbags, linethetotewith theremainingonesandplacethedoginontop.

"There you go," I say. She looks up at me and barks before hunkering down to chew on the plastic. I slouchbackagainstthepeelingorangeseatandlookupintothefluorescentlight.

I canstill hearhimscreamingforme.

Butn.o.bodyever knewwhatMaryPoppinsfeltabout.i.t, forMaryPoppinsnevertoldanybodyanything.

. ARYPOPPINS.

CHAPTER TWELVE.

It's Been a Pleasure "Yo, lady!" I jolt awake. "Last stop. ort Authority!" the driver shouts from the front of the bus. I hastily gather my things together. "I wouldn't be trying to sneak on any animals again, girlie. Or next time you'll findyourself walkingbacktoNantucket,"hesays,leeringatmeover thesteeringwheel.

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The Nanny Diaries Part 32 summary

You're reading The Nanny Diaries. This manga has been translated by Updating. Author(s): Emma McLaughlin, Nicola Krauss. Already has 352 views.

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