She indulges in constant chit chat about the brother with the scars, the dragon tamer, and the jokesters (never the family traitor) and fills the perfumed air with her voice. Hand gestures, silly smiles, and memories pouring from her lips like tart white wine. But he always sits silent, a strange look on his face. Peaceful with inner turmoil. Calm wanting to shatter and break apart with a terrible scream.
She asks him about it sometimes. He never says a word.
One day, she visits a ward of lost minds, bidding farewell to friends too far gone to care. And she sees him there, standing next to a bedside with a woman who left long, long ago. The woman hands him balls of pink paper. She can smell sugar and salivated innocence from where she stands. She sees him take it like the finest gold, pocketing it, but never letting it go.
He sees her then, and calls her over. She's introduced, but not too well received. She feels awkward like she hasn't been since she was twelve with her elbow in a butter dish. She coughs a lot, glancing over to him and hoping he'll want leave. But he grips the gum wrapper and the edge of her bed with the same intensity. She'll have to drag him away from this woman. This dead, breathing woman.
She holds his hand when he finally leaves. She silently promises him never to ask. Her vow to never go back is even quieter.
He asks her about the visit sometimes. She never says a word.