Sixty Minutes

Sixty minutes ago, she looked fine. Well, as fine as possible after a day of heavy negotiations with the McGraw family; they always seem to exhaust her small supply of patience.

When she finally arrived at her own party, I went over to wish her a Happy 20th, teased she was officially a Lady. She snapped back that surely she must be a Contessa by now, and gave me the same irritating near-smile she’s been giving me for the past 10 years, ever since The Plague changed our lives. I remember a lot about how she used to be; the lighthearted tomboy egging me to climb trees, get muddy, go exploring. What I miss most, though, is the blinding joy that used to ooze from every pore in her body; her smile so contagious that you couldn’t help but be happy too.

And as I catch her in the corner of my eye now, I realize that in the entire 18 years I’ve known her, I’ve never seen her look like this. She’s frozen, hand on her mouth, eyes strained and darting about, and as I go to her, I know something is very, very wrong.

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