Carol set the avocado on the table and slowly began slicing at the top of the skinnier half. The bulky seed still held the fruit together, making it a pleasant struggle to pull them apart. Her wrinkled hands quickly loosened when the two pieces were liberated from each other, revealing the glorious insides of the avocado. Carol held the two halves in each hand and admired the dark green edges as it gradually became a light pea color inwards. In one half, the shiny brown seed stayed intact, and left a sunken hole in the other. With a silver spoon, she scooped the soft green content of the seedless half onto a tiny dish, and effortlessly cut them into rainbow shapes. She smiled, forming gentle crow's feet by her light brown eyes, as she picked up the first slice.
Enjoying the avocado squish against the roof of her mouth, she gazed out at the sea. The Gulf of Mexico was a vast stretch of deep blue, with the clear turquoise sky held above it. Lovely, she thought. The warm breeze lightly blew her auburn hair, revealing streaks of gray hidden in the layers. The sleeves of her cool linen blouse were also ruffling about in the breeze. Rays of the sun felt apparent indeed, but Carol was sitting at a table generously shaded by a grand blue umbrella. Wonderful vacation, Carol thought, as she finished her last avocado piece. She began to imagine how much Francine would have enjoyed this Florida climate. Carol glanced over at the bathing suit-clad and sunblock-covered children. Molly and Bobby were playing hopscotch on the deck. Their blonde curls were waving about. As Carol continued to watch their innocence, the blues, as deep and wide as the ocean and sky, poured into her heart.
Carol turned in front to her husband, James. He was a balding fellow, wearing an orange and yellow plaid button-up, and was busy with a crossword puzzle.
"This is a marvelous cruise," Carol said. She sighed, leaned back in her chair and looked at the children again. "Poor Francine."
James looked up from his crossword, adjusted his glasses, expressed an agreeing and concerned face, and took Carol's hand.
"How could she do this?" Carol said, "Just look at those children. How could Francine do this to them? To herself?"
James squeezed his wife's hand.
"I wonder where I went wrong," Carol said, "We loved her didn't we? How did her life turn out like this? Oh Francine…She hates me. Our baby hates me."
James pulled his chair next to Carol and put his arms around her.
"I did this to Francine. It's all my fault," Carol said, "I didn't approve of Lionel and she spited me by eloping away. Because of me, you never got to walk her down the aisle, James." She began to sob.
James held her closely and reached for the napkin on the table to dry her tears.
"Francine hated me for telling her so many times that Lionel wasn't proper for her," Carol said, "And when she came to me a month ago, crying, all I could say was 'I told you so'. Oh James, I didn't mean it like that though! This is all my fault! Now she's abandoned her life, left for New York, and demanded me to not follow her. I'm awful! Look at poor Molly and Bobby. They have no parents. Can you imagine what the poor babies went through? Social services taking them away like that?"
James kissed Carol's cheek.
"What a nightmare of a summer," Carol said, "Molly and Bobby deserve happiness. They're doing okay, right? They're having fun, aren't they?"
James looked over at his grandchildren.
"It breaks my heart," Carol said, "I hope Francine comes back."
James lifted his glasses and wiped away his own tears. "Me too, dear," he said.
Molly and Bobby were scurrying over to Carol and James.
"Grandma! Grandpa!" Bobby yelled.
"The deck is getting too hot!" Molly said.
"My feet, my feet!" said Bobby.
Carol and James laughed as Bobby quickly climbed onto his grandpa's lap, and Molly scrambled onto her grandma's. When the laughter settled, the four of them gazed out to the deep blue sea.
"Can I eat this?" Molly asked. She picked up the other half of Carol's avocado.
"Sure, sweetheart," Carol said. She watched Molly try to pull out the seed with her tiny hands, but it was too slippery.
"I miss mommy," said Bobby.
Carol's eyes began to water again.
"You know," James said, "Avocadoes are your mother's favorite."
"That's funny," Molly said. She finally plucked out the seed. "Mommy told me before they were her mommy's favorite too."