This scene comes at the end of chapter 39 (p. 358) during Dawn’s senior year of high school. Dawn has been avoiding church when she knows Jason will be there.
The following Sunday, on her way out, Dawn spotted Jason’s mother sitting near the back. Dawn kept her eyes straight forward toward the exit, but Georgia reached out and touched her as she started to pass by. “May I speak to you? I won’t keep you long.” Mom stopped. Seeing Georgia, she came back. Georgia smiled and greeted her warmly. “I just wanted to speak with your daughter for a moment.” Mitch put his hand beneath Mom’s arm and drew her along with him. Dawn felt clammy when they left her alone with Jason’s mother. Other parishioners greeted them both as they passed by.
“I heard you’re already finished with high school and are on your way to completing general ed classes at the junior college.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Dawn knew she sounded like a child, but she felt like one whenever she’d found Georgia Steward looking at her, which had been often over the last few weeks.
“And you’ve done well, too, from what I’ve been told.”
Anything she said now would sound boastful. She felt uncomfortable. Who had been talking behind her back? Had Georgia Steward asked or had someone felt impelled to volunteer information?
Georgia made a soft sound, as though clearing her throat. “I guess you’ll be able to go to any college you want now.”
Those words brought back everything Georgia Steward had said in the trailer. The memory of that day came like a flood of dark water, drowning her. “Jason no longer has the qualifications to get into UC Berkeley, or get a full scholarship to Stanford . . . You’ve ruined my son’s life!” Ashamed, Dawn blinked. Her throat hurt. Her eyes burned. She wanted to say she was sorry, but couldn’t speak.
Georgia grimaced. “I just wanted to say I wish you the best, Dawn.” She reached out as though she meant to touch Dawn again, then pulled her hand back. “That’s all I wanted to say.” She stepped around Dawn quickly and left her standing alone.
Mom stood waiting just outside the door. “Mitch is waiting in the car.” She took Dawn gently by the arm and they fell into step with one another. “Are you all right?”
“What did Jason’s mother say to you?”
Gulping down the growing lump in her throat, Dawn shrugged. “She wished me the best.”