Behind the Curtain

Natalia Corres
3 min readOct 7, 2021

A flash fiction

They looked like an average Mom and kids out for lunch at the diner. Haggard Mom, exhausted from the rigors of parenting a young teen and a toddler; toddler boy, in constant motion, hands a blur grabbing and dropping — squirming just out of the Mom’s reach when she tried to rescue a glass or silverware before it could find its way to the floor. But the young teen girl, who sat so very still, yet catching items before they could fall from the table and placing them out of her brother’s reach — there was strange calm about her, like she was the eye of the storm. And if their dining experience was an example of “normal” for them, she probably was the calm center around which chaos revolved.

I felt drawn to the girl. As if in her youthful calm, she held the answers to questions I could only imagine, questions that I had not even asked myself. She felt me watching her, and her elfin features took on an older, wiser look as she regarded me openly — our eyes meeting. Only at that moment did I notice that she looked a lot like me at that age. Slim of build, clear and unblemished olive skin, large dark almond eyes quizzically looking back into my own older now rheumy eyes. Her Mom was chattering at her and her brother, unaware that I sat communing with her daughter from 20 feet away at my own small booth.