"Why are you talking to me?"
"I'm sitting next to you, aren't I? You don't expect me to just ignore you?"
I felt foolish. Of course that's what I expected.
"Do you not want me to talk to you?"
Again I felt foolish and my cheeks grew hot.
"I can think of plenty of reasons why you wouldn't want to talk to me," I mumbled, thinking what a stupid conversation this was, and what a stupid person I was.
"Well I happen to be sitting next to you so I don't see why I shouldn't be sociable."
I felt totally and utterly embarrassed.
Silence for a few moments.
"Hey, why don't half the people here like you?" she said, quietly, as if she'd been wondering, and didn't like to ask, or didn't know how to say it. I hid my face, partly because her tone betrayed unexpected kindness. And I didn't want kindness. Did I? I wanted to be left alone. Half the people? Was she kidding me? Kindness? It was a joke. Why couldn't she just go away?
"They hate mysteries?" I said, but that explained nothing to her, and it sounded so much like a question.
"What's your mystery?" she said softly.
I was silent.
"You don't have to say," she said gently, turning back to her drawing, and for her the subject dropped. But I felt angry for some reason.
"The mystery of who murdered my sister!" I snarled bitterly, more to myself than to her. I regretted it instantly.
She started and gazed blankly at the pale pencil lines drawn on her paper. She heard me alright. Just like everyone. She turns away. As soon as she knows she stops talking to me, I think cynically. No surprise there.
A few minutes passed. The chatter of the class continued, tense, expectant. Then she looked up, and for a second I thought I saw tears in her eyes. But my own eyes deceived me, I was sure. Why should she be crying? She had everything to be thankful for, didn't she? And, Hell, surely she couldn't be crying for sympathy? That was the last thing I needed. Such a joke.
"When?" she whispered.
"Five times three hundred and sixty-five years ago," I told her.
She caught her breath as if in pain. A moment passed. "Is that allowing for leap years?"
I smiled, and she did too.
That was the close of our conversation, but it was enough. One person did not discriminate me for the great sorrow that had occurred in my life when I was just ten years old. One person cared just a little how I felt. One person, although I scarcely knew her at all, will remind me with a twinge of my sister Vere every time I see her. Deanna Macpherson will never speak to me again, most likely; but she had done, once, even after I told her why nobody usually speaks to me, and that is enough. That is enough.
That is why I had a good day.