Christina had fallen asleep while reading under the dining room table, and awakened to the clink of silverware and the sound of grownup voices telling secrets. And that was how she found out, long after it had happened, that her mother had been blown up.
“Blown to smithereens,” said a lady’s voice cheerfully. “Right in her own laboratory, poor dear. And her daughter was just a little thing, too.”
“Those scientific experiments can be tricky,” said a man’s voice. “Pass the salt, please.”
Christina sat up attentively. All around her were legs—black and gray trousered legs for the men, nylon stockinged legs for the women, except for one woman with hairy knees who wore white socks and sandals. The crimson tablecloth hung down to their grownup laps, giving the light beneath the table a reddish hue. As usual, someone had dropped a roll. Christina poked at it with her finger, dimpling the crust.
She didn’t remember her mother. Or, rather, she remembered only bits of her mother. A comfortable lap. A hand, patting. A rocking motion and a voice, singing low.