It was a few years ago, she reassures herself. She pokes at the food slumped on the white plate, moving them around in tiny circular patterns pushing sauce into food and food into sauce. It is not perfect; everything mixes in together, so it seems, that nothing makes any sense. The figures seated at dinner table are quiet and still with only the small clamoring of silver plated forks and spoons clinking against ceramic plates breaking the silence that permeates through the air.
She forces herself to stuff a forkful of the food into her mouth and pushes it around her palate for a few moments before swallowing slowly, silently, softly. Make a sudden noise and you have to speak, don’t do it, don’t do it. There is a pause as she winces in anticipation of the loud onslaught — but there is only silence to welcome her. Relieved, she pushes another portion of food into her mouth satisfied that her efforts have not been in vain…
“…I think she’ll want to tell you about it herself, right?”
She looks up quickly, feeling the last word stab into her like a knife. No no nonono. Please. Don’t bring it up.
The figure sitting diagonally from her looks softly at her with a protective gaze, motioning her to speak. I don’t want to talk about it, she pleads soundlessly at the figure. But the figure is adamant and continues to eat so that she is left alone to fend for herself. She swallows the last piece of food feeling it slip dryly down her throat. Maybe I’ll choke and I won’t have to talk. She prays for this fervently to some unknown god — to Buddha? No, he is only a teacher — hoping for that emancipation, that salvation. Just anything but this.
The figures all look to her now though and in that moment she knows that she cannot escape. That memory that had been so feverishly pushed back into the far recesses of her mind would be freed. It would exist, it would be real — something she did not want and yet it now came to this.
She composes herself, readying herself for what is to come — her hands unconsciously start massaging her thighs as a means of self-placation — and then she opens her mouth. The words falter on the tip of her tongue and she starts to choke. She curses silently to herself at the stroke of luck in timing. She continues to massage her thighs, rubbing them up and down, before she finally is able to let herself speak. The words fall like brisk rain, tumbling and following in succession with one another — and then it is over and out in the open, words so vulnerable and tart to the taste.
A few minutes have only passed by and yet it seems like an eternity to her. The figure sitting across from her stares at her blankly with unfeeling eyes. In those few moments, she starts to feel a sense of dread creeping, snaking its way into her mind and heart. Tears start to bead at the corners of her eyes with this realization. The figure does not want to comprehend or understand; it wants to avoid the whole issue and live in the cold and ignorant bliss it has created for itself.