It is a beautiful spring day on the day of one ice-cream outing. It is the week after Daisy’s suicide, and Susanna expects the group has been brought on such an outing to distract them from the sadness of Daisy’s loss. The staff ratio is higher than usual: three nurses for five patients. At the ice cream parlor, the pattern on the floor bothers Susanna; the contrast of the black-and-white tiles gets under her skin and makes her feel itchy. One of the nurses orders eight cones, and the girls pick out their flavors. The boy behind the counter asks the group if they want nuts on their cones. The girls look at one another, and Susanna is unsure if her fellow patients are about to laugh or cry. Finally, Georgina answers calmly that none of them needs any nuts.
The trip to the ice-cream parlor is fraught, and that tension comes through more intensely after a reading of the preceding chapter. As the nurses struggle to wrangle their patients, hoping to do something that will lighten their moods after the recent depressing news, glimpses of the girls’ agitation and tics peek through the carefully-orchestrated scene. When the boy behind the counter offers the girls “nuts,” the irony is almost too much for them to bear, but whether he asks this obliviously or pointedly is left open-ended.