We waited almost an hour for our food. My stomach was eating itself by the time our plates arrived, barely enough table to hold them all.
“I’m going to wash my hands,” she said, excusing herself and sliding out of the booth. No one looked up. We all began shoveling food into our mouths like we hadn’t eaten in weeks while she walked out of our lives.
They found her almost a week later down by the river. She had bronchitis, couldn’t stop coughing without a cupful of cough syrup and a heavy dose of sedation. It was the coughing that gave her away to the hundreds combing the riverbanks, the second stage of the search effort.
She showed no signs of abuse, sexual or physical, although her arms were bruised with her own fingerprints.
“I just wanted to get away,” was the only explanation she gave, and that was that. I read about her in the newspaper, gave her friends a few dollars to buy flowers, and never saw her again.