But when the
conversation starts, they dominate.
Worm their way into every sentence, every silence.
Every caught breath, exhaled pause.
Names, nice-to-meet-yous, passed round with sandwiches and tea.
Hole-riddled autobiographies, wadded out with circumstance and need.
Explaining themselves, defending their actions. In turn. And I?
Have never felt so young.
To my left, and working clockwise: Affair-with-the-boss, Heart-condition, High-risk-of-genetic-defects,
and back to me. (Boyfriend-has-two-kids-wants-no-more)
He noticed that I’m pregnant.
We chew our way through sandwiches. Different coloured fillings, no flavour- choked down with lukewarm tea.
We know it’s a test.
We have to talk, smile, eat, drink, laugh (not manically)
if we're to go home.
I can’t do it.
I want to cry. But I’ve been told off for that already (curled up on a trolley, examining bloodied fingers)
I drift, I think.
Jump out of my skin when she speaks to me.
You must eat she says.
You must eat.
I search for myself in their eyes,
re-make myself from fragments and reflections I find there (Four parts child, one part *****)
It’s OK, I tell her. It’s OK.
On my way home I’ll get a Happy Meal.
I’m collecting the toys.