Summers 13N

“I don’t understand.” Hilda’s voice sounded genuinely confused. “Every time we talk, you say how great Brad is. Over the summer, when you came down to visit — I asked when the two of you were going to get engaged, and you gave me this smile. What — what happened?”

Jane turned to her mother, laid a gentle hand on her cheek. “Brad is wonderful. He hasn’t changed. Problem is, I’ve changed.” She glanced quickly at Dr. Patel. “And it’s not just — you know, the waking up one morning and noticing that the whole world’s different. I mean, it was that — it was, I guess you could call it a catalyst, an event that forced me to think about . . . I don’t know, who I am, what the hell I’m doing in this world. And it made me realize something really important.”

She felt everyone’s eyes follow her as she rose from her chair, walked away from her mother. But her own eyes were fixed on the empty chair in the circle, which she approached and grabbed by its back. With a swift turn of her body, Jane swung the chair into the center of the circle, then adjusted it so that it faced all of the room’s occupants. She stood behind the chair, placed a hand on its back. “It made me realize there was somebody else on my mind. Another person who isn’t here tonight.” She sighed, walked out from behind the chair. And sat. “Because he can’t be here.”

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