by Roberto Bommarito
When her little sister Mary died, Clarissa stopped eating up chunks of her time.
At first no one noticed. She went on pretending to be the happy-go-lucky eighteen-year-old we all used to know. She was really good at masking her grief as something else.
The day after the funeral, we went to see her. She was sitting on the edge of her bed. We formed a half-moon in front of her, like ants biting on a crumb of bread.
"I'm cool," she said.
"Like hell you are," replied Jessy, her best friend. "You loved Mary." Jessy threw a glance at Jason, Gabrielle, and me. "Let us help you."
"There's no need." Clarissa's smile was a flash of white light at the bottom of a deep dark well. It was somehow unsettling. "Everything is going to be OK," she insisted, as if we were the ones in need of some comfort.
Jessy's face hardened. When it came to hiding emotions, she couldn't match up with Clarissa. She put a hand on Clarissa's shoulder. I guess she needed to see, hear, and even touch her best friend's pain. Maybe we all needed that. Without it, we felt useless.
All this happened 3,652 dinners ago. Happy days taste like apple pie with a touch of maple syrup. Some love them, others don't. It's a matter of preferring sweet rather than salty stuff, a matter of taste. Salty days usually mean pain, and love includes that too, so they aren't that bad after all.