Victoria is sitting on the bed, her head resting on Dana’s shoulder.
“My brother says you’re full of it,” Dana says.
“You told him?” Victoria asks her.
“I mentioned it a few days ago. He said no one lives that long.”
“I said that myself once,” she says. “But what did I know? There are quite a few of us, actually. It’s not like we’re wearing badges, though, so we’re not easy to spot.” She gives a slight laugh then says, “I wouldn’t have known about any of it if I hadn’t met him.”
“After what he did to you, why did you stay with him?”
“Bergeron can be very charming when he’s not trying to slit your throat. I wasn’t the same person I am now and maybe, in a sick, psychotic way, I looked at him as a father-figure. He taught me a lot and exposed me to art and music and culture. But no amount of good he did could never make up for the fact that the first time he saw me, he lured me into an alley, strangled me, cut my throat then hung around to watch peoples’ reactions when they found me.”
They sit quietly for several minutes.
“What were your parents like?” Dana asks.
“Barely knew my father,” Victoria says, drawing her knees up to her chest and resting her head on them, “Knew too much about my mother and most of what I knew I hated.”
“I never knew my father or my mother,” Dana says.
“Aren’t both your parents still alive?” Victoria asks.
“The ones who raised me are.”
“You’re adopted?” Victoria says to which Dana nods. “Why didn’t I know this before now?”
“You have your secrets, I have mine,” Dana says with a grin. “Don’t get me wrong, the parents I have are great. If I’d had the opportunity to choose a set of parents, they’d be just who I’d choose. But I still wonder what my birth parents are like — and who knows what’s lurking in my medical history.”
“Do you have any chronic illnesses?” Victoria says.
“Never been sick a day in my life,” Dana says.
“No colds or flu, no chicken pox. George had it all. But who knows what’s waiting for me, cancer, heart disease.”
“What have your parents told you about your birth mother?”
“Not much. She was sixteen and from Brooklyn, where they say I was born. She was an athlete — track, I think. They said she was very emotional when she gave me up but knew she couldn’t take care of me.”
Victoria sits up and rubs Dana’s shoulder. “If she was an runner, maybe she’s where you get your athletic abilities.”
“Maybe,” Dana says. They sit for a moment. “It must be nice not getting older.”
“I do age,” Victoria tells her, “just a lot slower than a regular person. I’d guess it’s something like one year for every forty or fifty of an average person.”
“So, when I’m seventy, you’ll be what, twenty-five, twenty-six?”
“Somewhere in that neighborhood,” Victoria says. “For the first few years, I aged like everyone else then when I was eighteen, or so it slowed to a crawl. Others have said it was the same for them.” She lies back on the bed then rolls onto her side and props her head on her hand, looking at Dana. “Not everyone has a traumatic experience like I did. Most just figure it out when they outlive their friends and their friends’ children.”