I said it to myself, hoping that the words would become real if I said them, instead of thinking them hard inside my brain’s tangled nest.
“They can’t see it.”
I pulled my top down hard, willing it to extend, to stretch, to somehow lengthen, as if there was some fold or wrinkle I had missed that was going to make it 2 inches longer. When I stood perfectly still, it extended exactly to my waist, exactly the way I wanted. The fabric ended right at the perfect point, denoting the border between one half and the other half.
But if I bent, or stretched, or turned one way or the other, it gapped, and suddenly an oval of my pale, wrinkly, flabby belly was visible to the world.
“They can’t see it,” I told myself again.
I could, of course, just explain what it was- what I needed, and what had happened and what was going to happen. I even knew the answers to some of those queries. I could answer some of them with absolute certainty. I just didn’t know the answers to all of them.
I heard my name, distantly echoing through the house, the sounds indistinct. I could still follow the shadows of the words, knowing the intonations that meant the yeller was seeking me.
“Coming!,” I bellowed back.
I tugged the top down one last time and left, the door shutting with a solid thump behind me.