At the gala she saw Kaylee with her son, Echo, tagging along beside her. She could tell Kaylee was excited to finally introduce her boy – of whom crayon drawings and amusing stories had abounded up to this point. Kaylee reached for the socially appropriate hug while Malone shrank clumsily into a simple shoulder tag. Kaylee smiled, entertained at Malone’s usual social awkwardness.
Looking down at Echo, Malone realized Kaylee was completely unaware of his tiny little finger, deeply rooted in his nostril, and rummaging around. Malone broke into a huge grin at the boy – sun painted curls adorned his tan, freckled face – pure innocence at its best. “Hey Echo! Save some for me, huh? How about it?” she smiled. He was instantly charmed as evidenced by his beaming return smile, finger still planted in his face.
Finally recognizing the situation and feeling the impulse to be embarrassed – Kylee dropped his free hand and gently removed his digging finger, wiping it on her jeans. But the contrast of Malone’s own social anxiety in comparison with her genuine appreciation for her son’s youth caught her at the heart level and she giggled … almost like a school girl. It was completely unlike most encounters when her son’s childish antics made other adults uncomfortable and led to her hasty apology which always felt like a betrayal to her love for Echo.