“I would have known how to tell her it wasn’t mine instead of just sitting there with that look on my face and nothing coming out of my mouth.”

This quote introduces the conflict that will guide the entirety of the story. After explaining her ideas about birthdays, Rachel wishes that she had more years inside her so that she would know what to say in the face of a teacher who insists the opposite of what Rachel knows to be true. Rachel is only eleven, and understandably hesitant to talk back to an authority figure, even if the person is demonstrably wrong, and Rachel wrestles with this throughout the narrative.

“‘That’s not, I don’t, you’re not…Not mine.’ I finally say in a little voice that was maybe me when I was four.”

Even as she attempts to stand up for herself, Rachel has difficulty expressing dissent directly to an adult. It is possible that this is the first time that she has found herself in the position of having to disagree with a grown-up. Her half-formed protests contrast with the much more adamant phrases she’s able to construct in her head, but unable to say aloud: “Not mine, not mine, not mine.”