Earlier, I had mentioned that Quinelle's birthday is on September 11, 1991, which I'm now changing to 1990; this means that Quinelle was 11 during 9/11.
I had also mentioned that something important (other than 9/11) has happened to Quinelle on September 11, 2001, but I didn't know what. Now I'm thinking that this is also the day that her mother disappears, without any note or indication as to why she has left.
So Quinelle is dealing with two traumas stemming from 9/11: the national tragedy and her mother's mysterious disappearance, which doesn't seem permanent until months later when she slowly realizes that her mother isn't returning (a sort of private parallel to those unfortunate victims who were lost--and never found--in the rubble of the World Trade Center).
Later, her father will disappear as well (but he will leave a letter and access to a bank account), resulting in Quinelle and Qeah having to survive on their own.
The following may be a draft of Quinelle's first letter to her mother, the day after her birthday:
September 12, 2001
How are you? I am fine, I guess.
So where are you? I have never spent my birthday without you before.
I got Peanut, the Beanie Baby elephant (light blue version, natch!), and the $20.00 from Daddy, but I seriously missed you when Daddy and Qeah (what a Putzy-Pooh) sang "Happy Birthday" and cut my elephant cake (Looked just like Royal Blue Peanut!!!).
It's kinda hard to understand why you had to miss my birthday, but it must've been important.
Are you sad about what happened to all those people in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania?
It's too terrible. My birthday will never be the same, will it? No one will ever be happy again on September 11, will they?
And you left so suddenly, in the middle of the day, was it because of the terrorists?
Or because of me? I didn't mean that awful name I called you. I was mad because you forgot my birthday.
Please come home soon.
You don't even have to buy me a birthday present.
(Your Lonely Peep)