She’s talking, but I can’t hear her over the racing of my heart. I’m submerged a hundred feet underwater and I can’t reach the surface. Trapped in a flaming building with nobody to save me.
I look at Molly. Her cheeks are flushed with pride, and she’s smiling.
“Do you like it?”
No. No, I don’t. I stare up at her, thinking she's better than this. She must be better than this.
“Is this a joke?” I say.
He eyebrows draw together. “No, Paris. It’s a fiddle.”
I glance down at it. The wood perfectly stained and lacquered. Slots carved into the body to let the music out. Neck dark and perfect. Something flares inside me. “Yeah, I can tell.”
Her mouth still holds the ghost of a smile. How is she still smiling?
I pierce her with a glare. “What is wrong with you?”
“Don’t you like it?” The smile’s gone. But I’m sure she’s still laughing on the inside.
So I lash out. “Oh, yeah. Me and my arm are going to have a grand old time figuring out how to play this.”
She draws back, hurt. “I thought you would like it.”
“Molly, I have one arm. That makes it a little hard to appreciate it. What do you want me to do, hang it on my wall?”
She looks at me, taken aback for a second.
I’ve had a single arm since three months ago, when the airplane crashed. The crash took the entire left arm (I'm a leftie. Who knew?). It killed Mom too, and it’s hard to tell which one hurts more.
I shake my head, still looking up at Molly. Shame veils her face.
Somewhere within her, she finds the nerve to speak. “No, you can play it,” she says quietly.
“Yeah. Let me just—“ I pick it up, and nest it on my shoulder. “And suddenly beautiful music will burst dramatically from it right when I start to doubt myself. Because that’s what always happens, isn’t it?”
She stares, mute.
We sit in uncomfortable silence for a second, and then Molly's face lights up. “Oh! I would have thought they'd tell you already!"
I gape. What could possibly go more wrong than it has today?
“You’re getting a new arm.”