Today's Reading

"I read an article today, about the actress and the millionaire. Your firm represents the actress, yes?" Grandma Sara's eyes had sparkled like a mischievous child's.

"Grandma, you know I can't talk about my cases. They're confidential, remember?"

Sara held up her hand. "You don't have to say a word. I have two good eyes and two good ears. I watch the news. I read the papers. I already know everything I need to know. It's not over for those two, not by a long shot."

Abby groaned and covered her face with her hands. "You just said you've read the articles! How can you possibly think it isn't over?"

"I don't believe everything I read. You assume everything they print is true?"

"Grandma, I told you. I can't discuss it. All I know is that I'm working twelve-hour days for people who don't want to be in the same room with each other."

Sara stood from the sofa and refilled Abby's coffee cup before settling back against the chenille cushions. "Sweetheart, you have to stop working so hard. All this tumult will come to nothing. Those two are staying together. End of story."

"Michelle Nichols was in our office three times last week!"

Sara shrugged and sipped her coffee. "I see what I see, and I know what I know. There won't be any divorce. Go ahead, tell your boss."

"Should I tell her that's my grandmother's professional opinion?" Abby had heard a few stories of her grandmother's matchmaking days, back when she was a young woman on the Lower East Side and later, as a young mother after the war. Sara had been out of the business for over forty years, but she still liked to lecture on matters of the heart. It could be a sore point between the two of them, especially when Sara tried to give her single granddaughter advice. In fact, it was the only thing they ever argued about.

"Joke if you want, but yes, that's my opinion. I'm old, but my instincts are still good."

When Abby didn't answer, her grandmother continued. "For instance, I know when my granddaughter isn't happy."

"Grandma, stop. I'm perfectly happy. I already told you, everything is fine. I like my apartment, I have nice friends, and I'm really lucky to have such a good job."

"Lucky is when you win the lottery. Not when you work eighty hours a week."

Abby sighed. "Not my hours again, please—"

"You can't do a job like that forever. Every day, another kick in the kishkes..."

"No one is kicking my kishkes, Grandma. Yes, I work very hard. Yes, it's not always the most... uplifting work. But it's important to me."

"Who's saying your work isn't important? I'm all for divorce—it's a necessary thing. Not just for people like your parents—for other people, too. People even less lucky..." She paused for a moment. "Of course, none of my matches ever needed a divorce."

"That doesn't mean all of them were happy. Times have changed." 

Her grandmother took Abby's hand in her own, squeezed it gently, and pressed it to her cheek. "Listen to me, sweetheart. Some things never change. Don't you remember the stories I used to tell you? I should have made you listen better." Sara leaned closer to Abby and sighed. "One day, my brilliant skeptic, I'll be gone, and all of my stories will belong to you. When the time comes, try to remember what I taught you. Who knows? Maybe you'll make a few love matches of your own."

Love. "Grandma, you know how I feel about this. After everything my mom went through, I just don't believe in marriage."

"I know, I know. But listen to me, sweetheart. What happened between your parents wasn't love. That was a match that never should have been made."

*  *  *

Abby's mother and father broke the news of their divorce to their daughters over hot fudge sundaes on Central Park South. Tucked inside a corner of the Hotel St. Moritz, Rumpelmayer's was well-known for its ice-cream confections, elaborate pastries, and fanciful décor. Abby's little sister was delighted with all of it—the teddy bears on the tables, the pale pink walls. The visit to the restaurant was their father's idea, but Abby was not fooled by his subterfuge. She was twelve years old, and she paid attention. She had seen her mother's tear-streaked cheeks. She had heard the late-night arguments coming from her parents' bedroom. Worst of all, she had smelled the unfamiliar perfume—a dense combination of musk and burnt rose petals—that clung to the lapels of her father's trench coat. None of the scents that swirled around the café—cocoa and butter, vanilla and cinnamon—could erase the one that lingered in Abby's mind. 

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