It was like an uninvited guest, only worse. It was like having a relative with a criminal history come to stay at your house. A violent criminal history. The kind of situation when you guys are in the kitchen together, making dinner, and he reaches for a knife to cut the onions, you flinch and start scanning the room for something to defend yourself with. Then you feel guilty about it. Because he’s family. And you’re supposed to love him, to trust him. You’re not supposed to be scared. You’re not supposed to be nervous. But something in your gut can’t help it.
That’s what it was like, the distance. It didn't sit right, watching everyone else fall right back into comfortable, knowing that it's where I should have been, what I should have felt, but everyone felt like a stranger to me.
It was the same conversations, over and over, and if I had been visiting a friend half-way across the country and been at her version of this gathering, I'd have been having the same conversations with them. Only at least there they'd have actually been strangers.
They reminisced about old times and talked about the future (because there was a lobe or two of our brains that hadn't yet been infected), and I sat back in my chair and watched their lips move. I could have been anywhere in the world, and I ended up back in this room.
(I left without saying good-bye.)