Eleanor remained on the blanket, surrounded by the piles of clothes looking wrinkled and limp like cast-off skins. “When in Rome.” Peter clapped his hands. Standing up, he tugged off his t-shirt. Wearing nothing but black boxer briefs, he bounded off to join the others. “You coming?” Sophie asked. “You go ahead, I’ll come along later.” Eleanor couldn’t meet her eyes. “Do you hear much from your family?” Sophie asked as she began instinctively to tidy up, stacking the empty bottles and scattered tupper-ware and folding her friends’ clothes. Immersed as Eleanor was in a culture where family was so valued — where adult children holding their parent’s hands in the street was sweet and not strange — the truth of Eleanor’s broken home coated her skin like a toxin. Inside her she felt the lack of communication was somehow her fault, and this colored every aspect of her life. “My father did send me a postcard recently?” It came out like a question, an offering to the awkward silence, the gap in cultural understanding. “That’s nice,” Sophie replied politely. “What does he do?” Eleanor shrugged, resigned neutrality on her face.