It is like a thread is missing. A connection to the past that will never be replaced. Grace thinks of crossed wires, of those phone calls she remembers from her childhood when random people would be on her calls, ghost voices from another dimension.
Is that what Dolly is to her, just a ghost who still haunts her every year?
She knows it is too much to unravel, too much to explain, just too much. How can she encapsulate all the memories of her Dolly, and her grandmother, and her anticipation and how she can't bear to think about her own birthday?
Grace takes a sip of her drink, aware that Peter's eyes are on her, waiting to hear what should be a simple response to a simple question. These were those early days of a relationship when the simple things still delight, but this was one of those moments when she needs to show him who she really was. That she is broken.
"Many years ago," she begins. "I was about to turn seven when my grandmother promised to repair my favourite doll, the one that I kept with me 24/7. She was going to fix her torn arm and replace the eyes. She told me I needed to be a big girl and wait the three or four days. Being without Dolly was unbearable. I flew into rages and had panic attacks, and my parents thought I was being unreasonable. And then on my birthday, I went round to her place for breakfast to be reunited with Dolly. But there was no answer. Nothing. Eventually, my mother used the spare key and found her dead. And during the chaos that followed, even after the funeral and the selling of the house, there was no sign of Dolly anywhere. She must've given it to someone to fix, and—"
Grace took a deep breath and searched Peter's face for signs that this was all too much.