“I’m fine.” She hides her face, stepping to the window.
I follow, her staring into the night, me staring at her. “You know…you don’t have to be.”
She glances at me, confused. “Just because you’re the only person at the restaurant who’s ever seen me cry doesn’t mean you know me.”
I look back over my shoulder, Lucas and Struggles causing some kind of ruckus in the hallway. “Maybe they don’t either.”
She presses the heels of her hands to her eyes again, quiet for a long time. Then she says, “He could have just fired me.” She shakes her head. “He didn’t have to erase me.”
It isn’t just the faint tremble in her voice—I’m not sure what it is exactly. Maybe the room, bigger now with just the two of us in it. Or maybe I’m just really seeing her for the first time, the parts of her she doesn’t wear to the restaurant. But I feel like whatever threads have been holding her together are ready to snap. She feels it too, which is why she’s trying so hard to not let me see, to not let anyone see.
She looks up, tears drying on command. “I shouldn’t be talking to you like this.”
The creak of the door pulls my gaze.
“Did you find those box cutters?” Chloe asks. “They’re all waiting downstairs.”
I grab the box cutters off the floor and then I find Pen’s reflection in the glass one more time.
I want to tell her that I understand. What it’s like to feel invisible; to feel like all you’re good for is forgetting. Even though I’ll always remember her like this. Bare. Beautiful. But I don’t say a word. She seeks my eyes within the glass and I’m silent. And then, even though leaving is the last thing I want to do, I turn and go.