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But why can’t we tell? she said

Of what? he said

Between what happened and what really happened.

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Oh, he considered, Well, only we know what happened, and only we can tell what happened, exactly how it happened, or exactly how it might have happened or

what we wished for and how it never appeared.

And how we were also very hungry, she offered helpfully

Yes, we were hungry, he added, And cold,

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And my sleeve was torn, she said

Yes, he said, there’s that. But we can never talk about what went on, only that we saw an opportunity and had to visit.

Why? she asked, Why can’t we tell what happened?

Because they would not believe us, they only believe in how they want to imagine it best. Only then can they feel how badly they want for it all to be true.

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She was 4, maybe 5 at the time, an orphan who suddenly had a new mother and father, a new house, a new bedroom with drapes, a shiny red car. She had no language. It was early evening and her mother had lost her earrings. The girl was on her knees, searching the fibers in the yellow carpet. The carpet was dark, almost mustard, the lighting in the room poor. The mother had on a dress and the hem rustled like trees above her. Looking up, it was just like trees, dark with a white silhouette and the sound of water.

She wanted to find the earrings for her. She felt the anxiety coming in waves. There was a party, guests. Behind the closed doors, laughter. She found one quickly. It was a red teardrop with a gold back. Elegant and small. The other took a while but it was near the bureau, its red eye facedown in the carpet. Her mother crowed. What eyes you have, she told her, incredible.Incredible. How did you see that, child? How? Her mother fastened them to her ears.

She was quiet, happy. And then a thought occurred: something new and not entirely unpleasant. She could see things that her mother could not see. 

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