I sniffed and steadied myself, had to clear my throat, which was tight with self-loathing. "I was talking about Ella."
"Right." He released my wrist and leaned back, clearly relieved to escape an emotional quagmire and get back to solid facts. "You were saying there was no vocalist quite like her."
"Actually," and this was important, "my exact words were, 'There was only one Ella Fitzgerald.' And then I understood."
"The hidden picture," he guessed with evident satisfaction.
"History's hidden picture. I still can't believe," I murmured, mystified all over again, "I didn't see it before."
I paused, struck anew by the irony of my situation. If you had told me I, of all people, would be thrown for a loop by history, I would have laughed in your face. I would have said I knew history intimately—the taste, the feel, the heart of it. Knew it the way a woman knows her favorite lover. But on that never-to-be-forgotten night that simple declarative sentence had no sooner left my lips, when I suddenly glimpsed a startlingly new side to my lover. And that discovery changed everything.
"Didn't see what?" said Eran.
"You said, 'I still can't believe I didn't see it before.' What didn't you see?"
"Oh." I forced my attention back to the conversation at hand. "The people."
His brows rose. "I beg your pardon?"
"People were the hidden picture. Individual people," I held up an index finger, "not one of whom was ever repeated."
He frowned. "That's hardly news, Kai-Lee."
"Yes, but did you ever stop to wonder if it was important?"
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