When or how I knew is still something of a mystery because it all came at once and with such force, the way knowing sometimes does, I wasn’t sure I knew at all.
I looked at the napkin, yellowed with age the same shade as Sarah’s skin; and at the silverware, Edwardian and platinum; and at the box, the coffin that held it all together, and thought about how it wasn’t really empty so much as full.
With Sarah and her full flouncy skirt sitting upright in it and leaning over the lip to chat with the girls in theirs, like you’d lean out of the bath to reach for a robe or a towel or just to have a word with someone on the other side of the door.
The other side…
I wanted to cry. Not the kind of full-on-everyone-can-see-and-hear-you type of cry that had never been my sort of cry anyway. But the kind that fills your insides in a low hot simmer and threatens to boil out your eyeballs and through the tips of your ears and nose and fingers and toes – if you’re not careful.
I looked at one of the other girls, looking at me, and saw she was about to spill over too. Those big watery eyes – more like an anime than any plain girl from Palo Alto. (She wore a badge that said ‘I’m from…’) She held out her hand – Sarah and the other girls still chattering away like a barnyard full of chickens – and said without saying ‘Give it. I’ll tell her’. And I was happy for her to do it; but heart-hurt too because, who was there to tell me?