Disenfranchised, disenchanted, stung—all of these words are equally apt to describe how Kamara feels, at that moment, watching Tracy’s gaze lingering brightly upon Maren’s, drawing the young woman in with a false lulling that seems too natural to be anything but real, anything but trustworthy and wholesome. But true as Tracy’s promises may be, they are also lies. Kamara cannot figure out her gain in all of it, but perhaps the gain is a more complicated thing: a thing that Tracy will share with Neil, with her husband and his indulgent smile. Perhaps this is a game between the two of them, a secret, funny game.
Kamara does not like the idea that they could be so callous, so blatantly horrible, yet she must concede, she isn’t being paid to like anything, she is being paid to do a job. She takes a seat beside Josh and reaches for a “cookie”, strongly beginning to suspect it is the only comfort she is going to get today. A false comfort from an inanimate object that is not long for this world and will soon be on its way to the afterlife in her stomach, and then, later on, on her thighs or midriff or wherever it is American women complain endlessly about the awfulness of fat.
It is an awful, awful game, she thinks. Life is not a game, and it is horrible to even think of it as such. It is not funny in the least.
She thinks of what she’d earlier told Neil, the consolation she’d offered though he’d hardly seemed the one who needed consoling; it had been Josh who’d lost the competition, not his father. “He’ll get over it”, she’d said. Sitting beside Josh now, she thinks to herself, You’ll get over it, and knows she has little choice.
She has to get over it, she needs this job. She has to trivialise the matter, as awful as it sounds, because she can’t afford to dwell on it. Life goes on. That is a favourite American catchcry, and it makes sense, in a way, from a certain viewpoint. It makes sense. Life does go on. It always goes on.
And so will her own.