“7 years old.”
It surprised her how easily that rolled off her tongue, like the truth that it is, like the lie that it is. The unsaid is her sanity. It seems careless to risk a nervous breakdown with strangers.
Besides, the lie is only in the telling, not in what is told. She is seven years old this year.
She would be. She would have been.
She could have been?
She might have been.
She would have been.
The tension in these tenses is in the silence she carries as she walks to the back of the bus, finds a seat, and stares out the window at this strange city. The question had been so simple.
How old is your daughter? The stranger asked.
“7 years old,” she said. Painless. Emotionless. Motionless on that bus, oceans away from seven years ago.
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