The Cedarville Review 2021

13 | CEDARVILLE REVIEW It was the talk of the whole neighborhood that Marigold Tuppence, a twenty-year-old woman, was dating the infamous Solomon Trent, who was only eighteen. No one understood how such a likable, self-assured girl could be seen associating with the neighborhood stalker. When looking back in later years, Solomon couldn’t help but agree with them. He didn’t understand any etiquette for interacting with humans in general, much less how to interact on a date. The waiters at Jeff’s diner would always give him odd looks whenever he suggested they split the bill, forgot to hold the door for her, or asked an impertinent question, of which there were many. The game of learning something new every day was on, but for only one person. He asked all kinds of questions about her father, fashion choices, and childhood, but there was one question that bugged him. He knew he shouldn’t ask it because it was built on something he saw, rather than something she had said, but he had to know. It was on the fifth date; it had been two months since their first date exactly. All five dates had been at Jeff’s Diner. Solomon wasn’t quite original. But he knew what he liked and he was pretty sure Marigold liked it too, judging by her smiles. It was the perfect spot for a date, if you ignored the large families with crying children, and the ant problem, and the fact that the tables were made nearly an inch thicker by the layer of chewing gum on their undersides. So maybe it wasn’t ideal, but it was good spaghetti and that’s all a woman should really ask for in a man, right? The ability to buy good spaghetti. The date was going well; she hadn’t rolled her eyes at some comment he had made on the neighbors; the waiter of Jeff’s Diner had even nodded to Solomon encouragingly about the progress he had made in his table manners. Now was as good a time as any. Solomon took a deep breath and asked “Marigold, why are you a babysitter?” Marigold cocked one eyebrow. “Because I need the money?” “Yes, but you could have been a waitress here, or at any other restaurant. Why a babysitter?” Marigold’s other eyebrow went up. “You think I would have been better at being a waitress?” The people at the table behind Marigold glanced over in their direction while trying very hard not to. Solomon’s mother was right, he shouldn’t have asked, but he needed to know. “Well, not permanently,” he stuttered out awkwardly. “I’m just asking, of all the jobs in town, why babysitting?” “Why not babysitting?” Marigold’s mouth was a firm line, but there was something Solomon saw in the back of her eye, the tilt of her head, and the twitch of her eyebrow; she was curious what he was going to say. He was on to something. “Because you’re not a babysitter.” “What’s that supposed to mean?” “Well, sure you’re good with the Fairview children, but it’s a mask you put on. It’s like they’re a tool to get to something more. They’re a stepping stool.” “And you’re not?” Marigold said those words flatly, staring him dead in the eyes. “I’m not what?” Solomon asked while trying to avoid her eyes by examining his spaghetti. “A stepping stool,” Marigold answered with a sharp sense of apathy. The members of the table behind her were openly staring at their conversation now. Solomon continued staring at his spaghetti until he heard Marigold sigh and say, “Look, Solomon, we both know you haven’t actually