What the heck am I supposed to do now? I’m feeling completely torn. Part of me wants to tiptoe silently away. But another part – a very strong part – wants to put my arm around Amanda and comfort her. She looks heartbroken, like everything in her world has gone wrong and it’s all falling apart around her. She cries quietly into a tissue. Her shoulders hardly shake at all. She just keeps wiping and wiping at her eyes. There’s something familiar about this. Something about the way she’s sitting with her legs drawn up against her body and her head drooping…

And then I get it. It’s me. She reminds me of me. That’s exactly how I sit when I’m upset. And the tears just pour out of my eyes, like they’re pouring out of hers right now. Like we’re trying to wash our troubles away. I hesitate in the doorway. If I reach out to her now, this could be our one chance to bond. But she’s been so horrible to me, she’ll probably just turn away. She might even hate me for catching her in a weak moment. No, I’m going to walk away now. This is NOT a good idea. I’m turning to go when a soft sound makes me hesitate. It’s not quite a sob, more of a tiny intake of breath. Whatever it is, it’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. I can’t walk away now. I just can’t.

I clear my throat so I don’t give her a huge fright. Then I step forward and put my hand on her shoulder. “Amanda…”

Her eyes fly up to meet mine. When she sees who it is, she gives a kind of gasp. For a second, we stay as we are – her shoulder warm under my hand, our eyes locked together. Hers are as blue as the sea, I can’t help noticing. Does our father have those same eyes? I’ve never been close enough to notice. Then the shutters come down and her face hardens. She pulls away from me and jumps to her feet.

“Haven’t you done enough?” she demands in a vicious whisper. “Haven’t you done enough to ruin my life?”

“Me?” I gasp. “What did I do?”

She gives a short laugh, before spitting the words out like poison.

“You were born!”

Then she turns and runs out of the change-room.

Image: Steve Vosloo, CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0