The Place Will Comfort You: Stories

The Place Will Comfort You: Stories

by Naama Goldstein
The Place Will Comfort You: Stories

The Place Will Comfort You: Stories

by Naama Goldstein

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Overview

Intelligent, evocative and darkly comic, Naama Goldstein's collection introduces a remarkable talent. In these sharply focused stories, the line between nation and self is as elusive as the distinction between past and present, fear and desire, the real and the imagined.

Against a backdrop that spans from the Galilean wilderness to midtown Manhattan, and from the 1970s to the present, the inhabitants of these stories struggle to feel at home in foreign and sometimes unwelcoming lands. In "A Pillar of a Cloud," a young American babysitting her Israeli cousins scandalizes the children when she invites an Arab roofer for dinner. "The Worker Rests Under the Hero Trees" features a twenty-something Israeli expatriate vying for romance with a childhood hero turned cranberry expert. "Anatevka Tender" stands on a fault line between ideologies as a mother who blames herself for her elder son's battle shock following the Lebanon War resettles her children in the suburban safety of an East Coast condo.

The brilliantly observed and haunting stories of The Place Will Comfort You illustrate the cultural divide between American and Israeli Jews — and the difficulties of moving between these two vastly different worlds.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416578673
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 09/26/2007
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Naama Goldstein holds an MFA in fiction writing from Vermont College, and her writing has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies. A former bartender, accountant, receptionist, language instructor, librarian and social services worker, she currently lives in Boston. Visit her website at www.naamagoldstein.com.

Read an Excerpt

The Conduct for Consoling

The clock shaped like a headache pill says three-eleven. For this I always look into P. Eliyahu Drugs, corner of Brenner and Kibbutz Galuyot Street. I have my places where I like to look if there is time when school is done so, halfway home, I check the drugstore clock. The breath from me grays up the window, clears, comes back and goes again. Inside a grandma argues at the counter. Legs squeezed in brown bandages, she keeps sniffing a jar of medicine, then tries to give the pharmacist a turn. Each time he shoves the jar away. He shakes his head and jabs his finger at her, makes his mouth to shout. She sniffs the jar. He should, too. No, he will not. I think he's going to win. The store is his. The clock is his. The time is three-fourteen.

Leviticus: Write and memorize each offering in chapter 9.

Math: division.

History of Our State: questions, section 3 (The Dreyfus Libel).

At five o'clock on Lebanon TV comes on Doug Henning's World of Magic. He only comes on once a year.

The pharmacist slaps at the register. The grandma wipes the air like there's a chalkboard in between them. In the corner of my eye somebody rushes from the sidewalk, pulls open P. Eliyahu's door. The bell sings. Suddenly I can't see anymore what's with the argument. A face is squashed against the window from inside, blocking the view. Nose to my nose, eyes to my eyes: When I jump back the squashed face laughs. Around the twisted laugh the face is flat and white, but from that yellow hair I know exactly who it is. The long locks shift like satin ribbons with each move, except for a thick cowlick at the top, dull, stiff and blunt. The faceunglues. The shop door opens out, again the bell. And it's the orphan, pushing into me, giving a small quick hug.

"Girl," the pharmacist shouts. "Blondie! For the final time I tell you children, come in here to buy, or — "

"Make exchanges! If you call yourself a store. Adler before

you for just one example, Kupelnik by Central Station, Fania Elmaleh — " The door slams on the grandma's voice, and on the bell.

"You waited for me like I knew you would," the orphan says.

Someone tied sacks around the clusters in the date palms on this block. Across the way a street cat with a belly full of kittens crawls under the porch of Or Akiva Synagogue with the white peeling walls, the door tattered with notes announcing who has died, and who's been born, who's selling near-new things for not a lot, and who will tend children weeknights. A soldier blinking on a bus-stop bench gives up on being awake; his neck bends, his chin sinks to his chest. The orphan skips to him, touches his gun. His eyes spring open, someone's brother going far or coming back. She stands there watching him, hands linked behind her, ropy middle bulged. She's still in her school uniform. She doesn't have her book bag on. We didn't leave the school gates as a pair.

A yellow-bellied bird flies towards the swaddled dates. The soldier shuts his eyes.

We never walked together before and I was not waiting for her today.

* * *

I went consoling at the orphan's place a week ago. A cat gave her mother cancer, so she died. The orphan still has a father but she is orphaned from her mother and that's enough; she is an orphan. She was always something wrong and now there is a reason.

Three girls from the third grade got picked to do the shivah call. The homeroom teacher chose only top students, with top grades and clean pressed shirts, because she wanted us to represent the class. My last report card in Leviticus I got an Almost Very Good Minus, in History of Our State Almost Very Good Plus, in Math Good Minus which is a difficult subject for me, but English class, even though it's new this year, from the minute it ever started I was ahead. I can come up with more rhymes than anyone for Pin. They can learn all they want but I will always have more English words. I use them every day, to ask for honey on my toast, seconds of cereal, whether the socks I want are washed, who's locked up in the toilet, and to say good night, which half the time I say in Hebrew just as tired. I talk two languages without being taught. I know — I understand with the full feeling of living life — that you can be of one place and another, not at all the same. So does the Russian girl with the eyes slanted far apart, close to the surface of her Russian face. But Russian we don't have to take in school, nothing like Doug Henning's World of Magic comes from there, and the Russian girl did not get picked to go consoling. Only me and two more girls the homeroom teacher told the rules. There is a conduct for consoling and a conduct for the grief. We memorized our part.

Do not knock on a mourner's door, just open and walk in.

Don't say hello and not good-bye. Do not wait to be seated.

Ask for no assistance, offer none. Solicit no instructions. Your presence in itself is sustenance, judge whether more is needed on your own. Take care not to contribute to the burden. If the bereaved engages you in talk, don't laugh, keep the voice moderately pitched, nowhere near loud. Don't force the heavy topic. Wait for the mourner to address her loss, and don't remove the cloth from any mirror.

We found her family name on the mailboxes right away, but stood awhile in the building's entrance hall. A death notice was hanging on the Tenants' Council board, printed with letters in the holy type of prayer books. Each letter in itself was almost book-sized, shelved in a heavy black frame:

BY DIVINE PROVISION

DRORA EVVEN

WIFE AND MOTHER IN ISRAEL

5704-5737

MAY HER SOUL BE GATHERED IN LIFE'S SATCHEL

THE FUNERAL PROCEEDING MONDAY 29 ELUL

FROM OR HAGAR SYNAGOGUE

TO THE ETERNAL REST GROUNDS AT GEULA

FOLLOWING THE EARLY MORNING SERVICE

That had already happened. We didn't go. To see a mother carried high in a white shroud towards the grave, then covered by the earth, is not for children's eyes except an orphan's. Consoling anyone can do who learned the rules.

People were coming down the stairwell, talking. Broken. Shouldn't know from such. We looked, each at the other two, to see who could move first. The three of us were here to represent the class. We weren't friends otherwise. A sweaty hand squeaked along a near down banister. The experience of my brother-in-law, what he witnessed after his young sister, I should say it was a place where the community, I won't besmirch, the west end of Neveh Keedma. She left five children with the man.

Three fathers stood atop the first rise of white stairs. One had an attaché case, one large empty hands, and one a green net grocery satchel, half a loaf black bread caught in the mesh. They stopped their talk and changed their order to walk one behind the other. My two partners in consoling lined up, too. We started on the climb. Each of us passed each of the men. We still had on our uniforms from school. They were in their office clothes.

I thought it would be dark in the apartment. It was light. When we walked in immediately I saw the cat, a red one with gold eyes, hunched in the shade of a consoler's folding chair, nose searching from the gap between two legs in army pants. The father sat on what would be a sofa if the cushions weren't all pulled out, so he was lower to the ground just like the teacher said, his sweater rent just like the teacher said, ruined on purpose, one rough tear over the heart. His face was such a way I couldn't look. In front of him were plates with rolls and hummus, eggplant spread and herring and some cakes, and in a pitcher raspberry squash. Nothing was touched except the fish. Grownups moved slowly or stood still. The cat sprang, landing neatly by a slice of marble cake. A man's hand picked the animal up by the neck. The cat made a quick journey through the air, stood where it fell, then walked off in a hurry, rubbing all along the papered wall. It held its striped red tail like a lamppost, looking back once at all the people in its place. We followed, to the orphan's room.

She was sitting on the tiles, next to a blanket. We got down, too, me on the corner of the blanket when we ran out of floor. We waited, like the teacher said, with not a word of greeting, not a word of pleasantry, no talk, nothing to tax the scant reserves of the bereaved. She started talking right away, but to her cat.

"Here. Here here. Here."

The cat came closer and the orphan made a grab. She was wearing a gigantic housedress, so her lap looked like a field of pansies grown over two sticks, on which now stood a cat. She held the animal tight; even though the cat had led us here, it seemed to have another place in mind. But soon it slumped and lay there, front paws pointed towards the orphan's navel. Now she bowed and pressed her forehead to the furry one. Her hair became a covering to both of them, the two heads overflowed by yellow shine, streaming down from that ugly tuftlike liquid from a tap. I saw the cat's eye narrow till it closed. The bigger human eye kept staring, wide and blue. Finally the lashes batted, thick as bristles on a brush. The orphan drew up straight, her hair just hers again, her eyes on us.

"Small eyes is happy," she said. "Closed is in the clouds. I know about cats. Do you have a cat?" We waited to see who would answer first. Until this day we had never been to where the orphan lives. "Zeessie loves a guest," she said.

The orphan before being an orphan came to birthdays uninvited and brought stupid gifts. Half a pencil or a notebook with the pages used and then erased. She'd push to be the first in every game. She'd laugh too hard and at wrong times. Whenever she would lose a contest, every single time it was no fair. She'd argue even with the grownups, until someone stuck a favor bag in her hand early, so she'd go. With or without, she always leaves last.

She dragged the animal up from her lap and showed it all around. Its weight stretched out the downy armpits so we could see their suede, the hind legs dangling over every lap of ours, in turn and then around again. The velvety toes spread apart like chicken toes, the claws popped out, each lap wiggled back, and every time the orphan laughed and tossed her hair.

"That's what she does!" she said again and again. "She wants to feel something under her. Here, Zeessie. No, here, Zeessie." I thought someone should say something. But could your first word to an orphan be, Stop? I knew it could not.

After a while someone came and whispered, "Quiet, girls. Remember where you are." We couldn't say it was the orphan who forgot.

She set the cat beside her on the blanket, which was baby-sized, knitted in loopy pastel checks that I could feel through my skirt. The cat took a step towards the door, but stopped, stepped back, looked at a swelled fold in the blanket and gave it thought. Again the paws reached, toes together now, reaching by choice to test the wrinkle, and make sure, and one more time, and so it stayed there, pawing at the blanket, like a digging for something, but slow and loving, pawing, rumbling, shoulders rising, falling, head sunk down, pointed end nuzzling.

"She thinks it's going to give her milk," the orphan said. "Watch," she said, and tugged a corner so the fold became a flickering snake. The cat's head snapped awake. With round gold eyes, it watched the snake. The orphan tugged again, the cat slapped. The orphan yanked, the cat glared and bit in.

The orphan said, "I've been to your home, and to your home, and to your one," and it wasn't any lie. The cat spat out the blanket and rolled over on its back. The fur was of a different kind below, the palest yellow-brown, thick as a heat-spell cloud.

Outside the front door opened, people whispered. The door shut again. A kettle started whistling; someone stopped it right away.

The orphan said, "I like your home the best."

To me.

She said, "Who made your little birthday cakes, sprinkled on top of every single cake with number eights in balls of silver many times like in a jewel box of eights?"

I said, "My mother, but I sprinkled," and I almost put my hand flat to my mouth, hearing I let it slip about her loss. I shouldn't have said Mother. I should have said something else. "The silver is safe to eat," I said.

"In that amount and only once or twice a year it won't catch up for a long time," the orphan said. "So let's say you and her next month can help me with my party. But do nines."

How would I have known the orphan was older than me? She never had a birthday party before. I thought, her mother didn't let. What kind of mother wouldn't let her child celebrate her birth? A mother of that kind you wouldn't want. You would be wishing for a new one a long time. I didn't feel anymore like speaking of my mother. I thanked HaShem our God I didn't have a cat. They said in school a cat can kill your mother with disease, plus anyone who stays the night, and I said, Like I didn't know.

The orphan said, "Americans make better cake than what we do here."

I felt so shy with happiness, I smiled at my knees. This year on Our Many Cultures of Good Taste Day almost all my gingerbread men ended up one-legged in the trash. Everyone thought they would be chocolate. The year before I brought a loaf of mac and cheddar cheese and someone said, because of this your legs are fat. On Our Many Cultures of Good Taste Day suddenly the best thing to be is Yemeni or Moroccan, and I'm not.

"Tell me the recipe," the orphan said. She pushed the cat, both of them sidling up, the blanket bunching towards me. The animal was busy licking its own chest, and didn't look up. The orphan tossed her hair. A strand whipped close. "Two buckets melted chocolate," she said. "Right? Or three. Twenty-five eggs, only the yolks. Everything sweet and wet as much as possible, the flour sifted fifty times so it fluffs up to full apartness. Nuts. You should have put in nuts. In mine we'll put in nuts. Otherwise everything the same, including favor bags, with red clowns on the front and back, drawstrings to close them, inside every one a singing water whistle, bird shape, red or blue. A two-tone toffee, four big pretzels." Every favor that I had she knew, and every one she wanted. "Sourballs, three, none a color of another, double-joke Bazooka, a nougat banana."

One of my partners in consoling got up on her feet, and stood in her school uniform.

The orphan didn't see. Only a dirty little heel popped out from beneath the pansy field, then ducked in again. "And we should keep all the same games," she said. And she remembered, each one by its rules and name plus how it went that day, from when I tried to pin the donkey tail on Grandfather of blessed memory in his old silver frame, to when I stumped every last guest with my Life Story quiz. From when my team jumped up and down because my soldier cousin said he'd be our mummy, to when I was a hundred percent right it wasn't fair; we had the same amount of time and length of paper as the other teams, sure, but we had more to wrap. She said, "When your mother said to wait for all your guests to be served cake before you stuck the fork in yours, and you knew on your birthday you don't have to? You pulled the anger right out of your face. Almost immediately you really couldn't see, good and quick."

The girl in her school uniform stepped forward. It was a Friday. The teacher said not to stay long. We had a duty to console. We also had a duty to get home before the Sabbath Queen and clean our home for her, and bathe.

"Your mother is beautiful," the orphan said. "Your TV's huge. Your father's smart."

The girl opened her mouth and took a breath. "The Place will comfort you," she said, "among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem," just like the teacher said. You cannot utter from your mouth the real name of God, but you can talk about His Place, from which comes consolation for our gravest trials.

Now my second partner in consoling stood.

"Those ruffle socks you wore," the orphan said, "with roses on the ankles out of lace. I love them. There was food enough for a whole zoo. Your parents aren't cheap. Your towels smell good."

"The Place will comfort you," the second one said, "among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem." And both my partners stepped around, and out, without good-bye, just like the teacher said.

I was surprised that I was left there on my own. I was surprised I didn't mind them leaving. They weren't my friends but they were something like me, pretty good students with not too wrinkled shirts. Us three were picked to represent the class. Not the class president, and not the most pretty, not the precisest dodgeball slammer, not the singing daughter of the cantor. First up the stairs had been the Parsi who uses oil on her hair and lets no one touch. The first to speak the parting consolation was a bucktooth with three bucktooth sisters. Me, the orphan was excited to see.

"I like your dinner plates with the blue edge," she said. She also liked our rocking chair. She also liked my bed. I knew then how it would be to watch a program on TV about a me which everybody wants to be.

All of a sudden I jumped to my feet. Something had been wrong and I only knew now. A wet warmth scraping me. My palm and fingertips and knuckles and between. The cat looked up at me, the pink tip of her tongue poking out. She drew it in.

The orphan said, "You touched your feet before you came here, don't say that you didn't! She can taste them. You have feet all over you. If not she'd only lick the nooks. Why'd you touch your feet?"

I said, "I have to get back home on time or I'll be dead." I almost died right there for saying Dead. The orphan looked insulted, but, thank God, it wasn't what I said. It wasn't even her that was insulted, but the cat.

"That isn't what you do with cats," she said. "You can't jump up all of a sudden. Look how hurt her feelings are. You scratch them first. You tell them next time they can come along."

I squatted where I was and reached my fingers to the cat. I told myself, The left, the left, so I'd remember which hand I should wash.

"Under her chin."

The cat stretched out her neck.

"Slower."

She squinted her gold eyes.

"Now tell her."

"Next time you can come."

Zeessie kept stretching up her chin. She smiled, shut-eyed, lips like edges of a clam shell coming open, sharp pearls glinting. Her breath was liver and old cheese. Red hairs stuck to my hand.

I hurried through the living room, sneaking my eyes to the TV and mirror and glass cabinet doors, all covered, like the teacher said, every reflection hidden in a time not suitable for looking at your own shape in this world. Our solemn thoughts must dwell on that which has no shape. We all knew what this meant. The warning passed around: The mother's soul! The mother undeparted, who was waiting in her home behind each sheet. Either she waited everywhere at the same time, or else she knew which sheet your fingers itched to lift. There she would be. As soon as one thin sliver of reflective surface flickered back at life, she'd travel on the ray, glide down the tilted plane of suffering and drop at our feet to crawl among them, hunting for the cat.

I blew the fur off me, wiped my hand on my school skirt and saw more hairs stuck there. I turned around. The orphan watched me from the hallway. Standing in her mother's pansy dress, she cradled the cat, the red tail lashing back and forth. A sofa cushion tripped me. Two hops sideways kept me on my feet, two extra skips ahead kept me going. I had to go on moving or I'd fall, with nothing to grab at but sheets.

I shouted, "Thank you for the hospitality, good-bye," like gracious houseguests should. But I forgot that what I was, was a consoler.

There is a conduct for consolers and there's one for whom we visit, but I forgot my part when I ran out, so no one in the house of mourning said any words back. Someone closed the door behind me. I ran the whole way down. New visitors heaved themselves up.

Early today the teacher in Leviticus maybe forgot this was the orphan's first day back. Because right in the middle of the verse she stopped and, as if this were a day like any day, yelled at the orphan, "So I take it that your endless jabber is in fact supremely useful

in the shaping of Mankind, otherwise who could fathom why HaShem our God Himself is obligated to suspend his all-knowing Instruction — " And so on and so forth, fire in her eyes and smoke shooting from her nostrils.

The orphan scraped her chair back. Tiles screeched. Tears tumbled from her eyes like diamonds. Hair flew out like golden spokes around that dingy tuft.

She yowled, "Who can concentrate when it's so dull with you? Dull, dull!" she screamed. "Dull!" like some big discovery. Which it was, to the teacher. "Your voice," the orphan said, "is like cold boiled rice for every single meal, every day. Lists! Lists! The pieces of the animal to cut, the pieces of the animal to burn, the pieces and the pieces and the pieces! Can't you tell a story? Tell a story maybe once! We liked Mrs. Shuvali better!" That's who taught us Exodus last year.

Bang. You could hear her crying extra loud out in the hall. That's how she's always been. Only the speech before was new, and the reason for howling.

The teacher pulled the kerchief on her head a little lower to her eyebrows, bowed and read aloud about the fire from HaShem our God that came forth and consumed all of the offerings of chapter 9. "'And when the people saw.'" She looked up from the book, across her high, green desk, eyes flooded full of privacy, beneath the silver-threaded cotton covering her head. "'They rose in song and fell.'"

I liked to hear about this happening. I knew this part would finally come. She told it well. The orphan's howling in the hallway faded and was gone.

She never came back to the lesson, or the rest of that whole school day. It was only in the time after school that I saw her again. I wasn't used to seeing her in this time.

* * *

Under the date sacks hanging from the palms, over the oat grit on the pavement by the donkeyfeed shop, left at Hannah Szenes. The Bee Gees squeal from the Gruner Corner record store. I don't know why they have to sing like that. The orphan isn't curious.

"You like them?" she says.

"Where did you go after you ran out of Leviticus? What did you do up until now?"

She says, "I had a conversation with the principal."

"What did she say to you?"

"She said," the orphan says, "that she would see I wasn't treated such a treatment in her school again. She knows the mayor and the prime minister."

"Guess what! I know what they're singing in that store. I could tell you the words."

"I know them. Ahh, ahh, ahh. Tayna lie."

"That isn't how. Should I tell you? They come from where I came."

She says, "Americans are fat."

I thought she liked Americans. I thought she loved our cakes.

She says, "On you it looks nice. You're full-figured but it's how you're meant to be. You're an exception, plus you have some color in your skin, and where's your accent full of spit? Don't have one, why? Because you count like you're from here. Let's go."

This hurts my feelings. Then it fixes them a little, then it makes me angry, proud, and grateful, till I'm left annoyed. One thing I know for sure is that I have a complicated answer to get out: "Like you don't have a history of passage?"

"I was born here."

"Sure, you. But what about — ?" I know how the rest of it goes, my mother gave it to me, we practiced long. But that boy in summer camp could not have been an orphan. To an orphan you don't talk about his parents, or his parents' parents, any kind of parent. A mother is a parent. It is not for you to turn their thoughts upon their loss.

The record seller leans out of his store. "The Brothers Gibb are not American." We run away from him.

At the distance where he couldn't leave his store so long, I stop. The orphan streaks on, and I am alone again for a good time. Or not so good at first, because approaching every turn I pray to our God HaShem she won't be there. I am not used to her in this time. She's unfamiliar to me here. I like her better at the other edge of a great many others in our uniform, within a fence.

In all my worry I can't stop to check the crack in the old beadle's wall. I cannot hear the conversation of the balance-sitting boys, high on the sidewalk safety rails, spitting their shells, today of pumpkin seeds. But when I see my playground I stop praying. This is always my last place.

I know the busy times and slow inside the low stone border, for the short slide and the tall. I knew the gutter of the water fountain would be almost dry now, the bees flown. I see at least one face I recognize here every time I go, not necessarily such that I have to say hello. I knew, this time of day, this time of year, the Arab women would be shaking down the olive trees. And there they are, in dresses over pants, beating the gray-green branches, olives hailing down a little lighter than yesterday.

Oval green marbles hit the tarp and roll into the wrinkles. This is not their playground, but the mayor must have said okay. They're in no rush. They drive in from their village for the olives in the morning and they leave before the crowd. The top of the tall slide is the best place to sit and watch and think about the shapes and clothes of country Arab women.

Yellow stripes whip before the ladder rungs, gold strands lashing my fingers as they reach to climb: the orphan, jumping from behind a bush, blocking the slide. "Keep walking," she says. "Don't be scared."

"I'm going up the slide."

"Run."

"Usually I use the slide"

"Usually, fine. Today there are Arabs."

"I know them."

"You can't know Arabs."

"They wear skirts over pants. They pick olives."

"Did you know they were looking at you?"

I didn't.

"Did you know they're talking?" She grabs both my shoulders to stop me from turning around. "Are you crazy?"

"Who says they're talking about me?"

She looks at me with kindness. "Go."

"Who says they don't like me?"

"They would like to spill your blood."

"They're picking olives."

"Exactly. You were going to watch."

"So?"

"They don't want you to watch."

"Why?"

"Because they're picking olives."

"Like I said before!"

"Which aren't theirs."

"They asked the mayor."

"They hate our mayor. They hate to ask."

"He said okay. They came last year and yesterday."

"There is no time for this!" the orphan yells. "One is heading over with her stick! Act normal. It's two. It's three now! What is the fastest way home?"

Hand in hand, we run around the slide, over the path to where it softens by the water fountain, then off, between two baby cypresses and over the low border. The orphan follows every move I make along the shortcut that I found when Crazy Petersburgski, from the house without its panes and door, zigzagged through traffic and stepped up behind me. From our porch, I saw him pass the opening in our hedge, continue down a block, then blaze a trail through the weedyard of his house, his hands still moving with his shouting at the air. Some days he doesn't.

This time, when the orphan and I lean out from the seventh floor, we see nothing but my key chain swinging from my neck plus, lower down, the roaming little sisters from the arguing apartment.

"We should spit on them," the orphan says.

"Should not." I hold her wild blue eye just long enough. I live here. I have seen the mother of the girls throw sheets of newspaper for them to move their bowels onto, on the street. They do it. I understand from this it is a rule with them that, once you're out, you can't come in. I don't need trouble with this type.

The orphan pushes a thin shoulder into me, so now her smile is my only view. "Wow, scary! Right?" she says. "We ran hard."

"Can someone pick you up?"

She grabs a rail of the porch. "I never had my lunch," she says. "I missed the cafeteria break. Like I could stay after what happened in Leviticus? She didn't give me any choice." Her voice begins to fade. "I could collapse and faint." Her neck grows soft. "There's a condition that I have," she says. "I get too hungry, I can die."

In the kitchen she heads immediately for the stove, kneels, and glues her face to the cold glass. "Where's your cake?"

"We don't keep it there."

"Then where?"

"Nowhere. It's the middle of the week and no one's birthday."

I know for a fact all she can see are two bare racks, but you would think the glass looks out on the sparkling sea. It does not. I know this from across the room. I know it just the same once I'm beside her, tiles against my knees.

"None?" she says. "Nowhere? Nothing?"

"If we had any it wouldn't be here."

She keeps staring in. No, she is looking at my image. In the see-through mirror, all of our differences are two: the first our hair, dim gold streaming by a black-brown cloud, and the second our shoulders, mine saddled with my bookbag straps, hers bare. The rest is twinned: pink shirts, pink-collared necks, a face next to another, egg-shaped both, eye-stained, the details blurred but sharper than the room around. The oven rungs show clearest through the areas of dark.

"Then where?" she says.

"Where it won't spoil."

"So? An oven between bakings is good. Cool, very dry."

"There isn't the right level of concern for hygiene in this country. You should keep it in the fridge wrapped up in plastic."

"Says who?"

"My mother." I push away the floor and stand. I can't not say my mother in my home. Anyway, the orphan isn't bothered. She hops up. Her mood is much stronger than a minute ago. We're still facing the oven, but she's looking at the tin-handed timer clock.

She bats her lashes. "When does she come home?"

"At the end of her work."

"And makes dinner?"

I cannot carry on with such talk, when I know this: It is one hour and ten minutes until Doug Henning's World of Magic. If I don't do my homework, there'll be no TV at all.

"Right now is homework time."

She says, "Maybe for you."

At the far end of the kitchen counter I touch a cabinet door. The door sinks in. The swiveling pantry spins and shows its shelves. I tell the orphan to take what she wants, then turn the bend around the breakfast island, choose a stool, slip off my bag, unbuckle it, and let all my supplies slide out.

I organize the pile, last to first, open my pencil case, find one pointed, line it up beside where I will stack my documents. These documents, translucent, glossed, embroidered with the teacher's hand and spaces framed for mine in purple mimeograph ink, slip smoothly off my binder prongs. I take a deep breath of the sharp, head-clearing smell, and I am ready. This is my work station. The pages go in their decided place.

50, remainder 1.

86. 4.

32. 9.

16.

In History of Our State you must take care to respond in full answers, which contain the question.

1. The unjust punishment of Captain Alfred Dreyfus by the French was five years exile on Devil's Island in prison clothes with the guards saying we will keep you here for life, the judge told us to, but first in front of everyone they tore his decorations that he earned off of his captain's uniform and broke his weapon and the onlookers all shouted for the blood of Jews and launched a hunting season and the least but personally painful thing was that he also had to give back the Captain's uniform, down to the army-issue underwear and socks, for life, even after he was ultimately cleared.

2. The real traitor was Esterhazy.

3. His disguise in flight was to shave off his mustache.

4. A subsequent fact for history's consideration is the death of the Captain's granddaughter, Madeleine, in Auschwitz.

5. Herzl's grand vision was that he understood the matter of the climates and the crops.

And here I am, done with two subjects out of three, with time to spare, enough room to expand into the part I left for last. The purple script of the instructions balances, top of the page, above the columns:

Complete and memorize.

This must be done in stages. First, the look into Leviticus and the transcription, every Offering matched with corresponding Substances and Method. Later comes the recitation, but the first phase is the work I love, the words I transfer very fine, the spectacle they carry strange. This is the worship as we practiced it for the first time, in desert passage.

Sin offering.

Peace-offering.

Wave-offering.

A bull-calf. An ox. A ram.

Oil. Incense.

Meal of grain.

A drawer rolls open. Cutlery chimes.

The fat and the kidneys and the lobe of the liver.

The drawer rolls shut.

Breasts and right thigh.

Inwards and legs.

A plastic plate scrapes lightly across the counter.

Washed and made smoke.

Smeared with blood at the base and corners.

The orphan crows out of the quiet, and the luster of the verses is made dust. "You seen this?"

Her narrow back is turned to me across the breakfast island, a shoulder laboring, sleek mane shifting with that one lock an exception. She has set up her own station in the neighborhood of the sink. As far as I can see, she is supplied with our tub of chocolate sandwich spread, our loaf of bread, much shortened, and our toothiest big-handled knife, which I hear crunching. The teeth don't show, only the handle. The blade is shoved down. The orphan steps back, fingers around the wood. Then, finger after finger, she lets go, and waves her empty hand. Yet the knife stands. The blade is buried in the marble. She has stabbed our kitchen counter.

I move all at once like the army, down from my stool, around the island, across the floor: "Stop!" Even though it's already done. Done, there before she found it. I know that crack. This is a feature of our kitchen and she didn't put it in.

"Should I take it out?"

"Take it out."

She jerks the handle one way and the other, and free. Stone meal has stuck to the chocolate-greased metal, up to a point. She says, "Deep as this."

"You made it worse."

"With such a thin knife?"

"Metal beats rock."

"So metal made the crack?"

"My mother, with a pot."

"Why?"

"She took it off the fire, ran, dropped it on the counter and leaped back."

The orphan finds the stain before I point it out, how could she not, a beet-red splatter on the ceiling, a wildly flaming planet, droplets violently striving everywhere. "I like borscht," she says. "With sour cream and pepper. Why did she do it?"

"Pressure cookers make her nervous."

"So why did she use one?"

"To save time."

"Did she get hurt?"

"I told you she leaped back."

"You saw?"

"I heard."

"And then?"

"I came."

"And saw?"

"Her hands shaking. She was sitting on the floor."

"Dropped?"

"Legs straight ahead."

"And no one helped?"

"She didn't want at first but then she let. My father took her hands."

"What did he say?"

"I don't remember."

"What did she say back?"

"'God damn that pot.'"

"With you there?"

"They didn't see me. That's not her usual language."

"Did she take it back?"

"She didn't say one more word. She looked like she had found him after a terrible, long trip."

"Show me the pot."

"I can't." I put out a hand and she gives back our knife. "My father threw it out. It was archaic and a hazard. Better technology is just around the corner."

"I could have told you that," she says, again gazing up. Her chin is bearded with a dab of chocolate. She slips her fingers through her hair; they meet up at the crown, over the damaged patch, to feel it gently, then come apart. "For a whole week I didn't dream," the orphan says. "Last night I did. I bit right through a windowpane. Inside was light and outside dark. I bit a hole right through the middle of the glass, black in the middle of the shine, the shape of my mouth. It didn't hurt, it didn't not hurt, I didn't feel any blood running."

I don't see what this has to do with anything right now. "We have a big assignment in Leviticus."

"I don't." She keeps on staring at the stain, but glassy-eyed, bored sick.

"The teacher gave it after you got up and went."

She says, "Gave you. But I'm exempt."

"You have chocolate on your chin."

"So?"

"You should wash it."

She says, "Let's watch TV."

I almost laugh at her. Nothing can tempt me before five o'clock today. He comes on only once a year. I smile. "Only after homework. That's my mother's rules."

The orphan finger-pats her tough, blunt lock. "Maybe for you."

"What happened there?"

She spins around to push the lid back on the chocolate. "Finish your boring work," she says. "If you finished we'd have time."

"It isn't boring." I lay the knife in the sink. She hands me the soft-sided tub, which I return to its home in the pantry.

"Boring." She licks her thumb, presses it onto the breadboard, then pecks off the coating of crumbs. "This year there's no more story," she says through speckled lips.

"There is."

"No."

"Yes. What do you call the people in the desert? Exodus they got away and headed out, right? The tabernacle was built to practice for the Future Temple? This year they are learning how to worship in it and they get to try. In chapter 9 they have a test. What happens?"

She lifts the loaf and squeezes it like an accordion. I grab the bread and box it.

"If you'd have stayed in class you would know. They get it right! They offer everything correctly. A fire comes forth from HaShem and eats the offerings. And all the people rise in song and fall, because they got it right."

She says, "So why'd they fall?"

"That's just the bowing."

"You said fall."

"That word in the Torah just means bow. A sudden bow that looks like falling. From the reverence."

She says, "For such a easy word as fall you have to learn a explanation? I feel sorry for you that you're not exempt."

The fragrance of the mimeographs wafts over the air. A trapped fly struggles in a tiny burst; this is the nature of the sound which says the clock's tin hand is straining in a tricky nock, and out.

"Go watch TV."

"For real? What if she walks in?"

"The rules are just for me."

Her sandals slap over our tiles, then are muffled by our carpet. The television knob clicks smartly and releases seltzer noise. The fizz acts up in six new ways, then smoothes into the trill and prance and festive kindergarten teacher's voice of an Arabic commercial meant for kids. The orphan has chosen Lebanon TV. Next come Loony Toons, two, rich and quick, carnival ruckus on each side of a chase. Big deal. It's nothing I can't watch on the National Channel, later, an extra row of printed exclamations coursing below, Hebrew flowing above the Arabic. You see how tables turn, my lucky duck!

Though I smooth the pages of Leviticus back at my work station, my thoughts stay on translation. Why do we translate the Toons for Arabs, along with us, but they translate only for themselves? Because Israel has Arabs living in her, but the Arab countries, no Israelis. Also they wouldn't like to do a favor for the children of our nation. And we? Do we translate every program for the Arabs? How could I truly know? I would have to watch every single show on the National Channel, all day. No mother would allow it. But the answer doesn't matter when I don't need translation in the first place, since I understand the Toons as they are said: Tha-tha, that's all —

The ending is cut short. The orphan has switched somewhere else, a sterner place, Jordan TV. A string orchestra slices its rows with slanting notes while a kingly voice keens. The orphan turns this up. The singer and strings complete their job, slow down, and stop. A newer Arabic music gallops in, and just as quickly halts.

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon to you, a welcoming voice says, but not in Arabic. No. Otherwise, explain how I know what he just said. The greeting may have come out in their sounds, but that is our language, here. Hebrew is what he's speaking, with an Arab accent. Jordan is talking so we'll understand. An enemy reaches out.

The orphan has pushed our rocking chair from its belongful spot. The curved base rocks over the smashed nap of our carpet, in front of our TV. The screen is showing a man who I can see is Arab, polite and serious in a pinstripe suit behind a desk. The number on the dial says it's Jordan, but I recognize every word.

In a secret address broadcast to the Israeli cabinet today, United States president, Jimmy Carter, vowed to withdraw all aid within a fortnight if no reforms are seen in Israel's policy of gross coercion and brute force.

The orphan is laughing and clapping her hands. "Oh, good one," she says. "Very clever. Try a little harder, liar. Lying Arab liar."

"Who is he talking to?"

"Who do you think? Me and you."

"Why? What's happening? What are they going to do?"

"Like you never saw this before?"

"What was it that he said? What did it mean?"

"It isn't true," she says. "He is a liar for a living." She makes room for me on her chair, but doesn't stop the rocking. I must catch the rhythm fast and jump at the chance. She grabs me as I land.

Last week in Belgrade, Maccabi Tel Aviv's basketball team claimed the European Championship cup.

"That's true," I say. "We did win."

"Stop bunging up the rocking," she says. "Do like me. Pay attention."

Probes into stimulant abuse by runtish point guard Motti Aroesti have been quashed, the newsman says, by American Jewish financiers of the competition.

"Lie," she says.

"The part I understood was true."

A poll suppressed by the Israeli censor demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of Jews collected from the Arab countries and transplanted in Palestine since the inception of the Zionist experiment would like to be collected again, and put back. The European Jewish ruling class alone stands in the way of a movement of return to lands where this now sorely disenfranchised group had previously been perfectly happy, typically affluent and influential.

"No one wants to go back! We all like it here!"

"Who's talking to you?" the orphan says.

"Him, no? You said."

"I also told you he's a liar. Anything he says is the opposite of true. If he says go away, stay put. He says you're weak, you're just that strong. Me and her watched it every day before dinner. Lost means won. News equals propaganda."

I don't know of such a thing. The man delivering it shuffles his notes. "He said we won. We did."

"You don't understand how it works," she says. "Make sure not to eat up what's coming next. The strongest lie will always use sights and actors. What look like stumps are really tied up in the pants or sleeve. Any pus is mustard."

The television blinks away the man. His voice speaks on.

In today's objective third party report, a Belgian camera crew turns its equipment. The screen looks out on an alley, narrow, unpaved, unloved, spangled with water-filled footprints in mud. One refugee family, uprooted and banished from a village of antiquity which was subsequently occupied and renamed. A knock-kneed child appears, splashing away from us over the mud, barefooted, a boy in shorts. His hands are joined behind his neck, clasping the handles of a grocery satchel which rides on his back. His back is stooped in a manner for carrying what is heavy. The net shows through only a stack of flat bread loaves, bouncing against the thickness of a book bag. This last thing is the weight.

"He's learning how to be a murderer," the orphan says. "Next year his mother will take him to your playground at the crowded time. He'll blow up your slide. Where are you going?"

* * *

This is the matter which God commanded you, Do.

Take ye a he-goat for a sin offering and a bull-calf and lamb, a year old and unblemished to raise up in fire. And an ox and a ram for a peace offering to consecrate before HaShem, and a grain-meal offering mingled with oil.

Today HaShem will be apparent to you.

"There's hidden salt in chocolate spread," the orphan says, crossing the room. "You sit. Where's your drinks?" The fridge door suction gives. She finds the grapefruit squash, the ice, a cup.

"Grain meal. Oil."

"What?" she says. She brings her drink over to my station. "Did you want — ?" she whispers. "No. Shh."

"Mingled with oil." How truly thirstily her juice goes down. "Mingled." She's just as eager for the empty cup. She makes her lips long and draws out the shrinking ice. Water shines on her chin. Ice clacks behind her teeth. "Oil. Meal of grain."

She spits the ice back out. "You already said that."

"Aren't you missing your show?"

"It's over. I came to be with you."

"I'm learning by heart."

She looks at my station. "And what else after?"

"Nothing."

"Only this and then you're free? You're almost done!"

"I'm having a hard time."

"Finish! Be done!"

"The copying I liked but nothing sticks."

She takes the mimeographed columns from my hands and breathes their purple scent, for a long time. When she comes up, the sun of good ideas lights her sky-blue eyes. She says, "You need a hands-on exercise."

And these are the things which the orphan says, get:

Cream of wheat. Soy oil.

Sliced salami. Plum jam.

Corkscrew noodles in sauce.

"Anything else red?" she says, rummaging through the fridge. She finds the ketchup in the door. "What else?"

"A paper towel for each mess."

"What else?"

"For the fire we'll just make noise."

She says, "We'll figure it out as we go."

Never was homework so alive.

Red on the corners of the counter. Red at the base. This I will not forget. Grain meal whispering while pouring, as she waves cold cuts in the air. (She likes the way I can control the sandy stream. She nods. "You should fill your hands of it," she says.) The sensation of the meal grains passed in the thousands, hand to hand. (She drapes the cold cuts on her shoulders like a pair of epaulettes. "Now hold still.") The grains sopping the weight of drops and cleaving to each other, then to the creases of the palms. ("Mingle," she says, twisting the oil cap.)

We mingle it until our fingers turn the coarse dough gray. Our hands had looked perfectly clean.

We push the matter into different shapes, then scoop and pound it into a sturdier stock and start over with an animal theme. We try again with the idea of a whole landscape, which needs a base. Salami is a natural choice. Fish sticks make good trees. Some of the plums in the jam are entirely whole, only shrunk and hollow. One contains part of a pit.

Now, when the clock's tin hand shudders, it's no longer punishment to me. I don't fill with the early sorrow of my favorite show coming and passing, unseen because unearned. The time draws close and I have earned the time. The sound of struggle is a prize.

The solid foods come away easily. The sauces must be given a quick wipe. The meal-dough clings in the crack.

"It's a good match," the orphan says.

We pat some more in, lick our fingers, smooth the edges, level the ridge. This day proceeds from good to best. My mother will be extraordinarily pleased.

The orphan says we should correct the ceiling, too.

She climbs up on the counter, stands with one shoe on each side of what is no longer a crack. She stretches her thin neck. "Go get some bleach. You have some on the spinning shelf that's on the dryer."

She leaps down, runs off on a separate path. I return with bleach, she with a toilet brush and my father's spare glasses. Both she hands to me. She takes the chemical. Under the kitchen sink my mother keeps a pair of rubber gloves. We each get one. She puts the stopper in the sink and pours the bleach inside, closing her eyes. I shield mine with the glasses while pushing off my shoes. She stays down while I go up. She dips, I scrub.

"A little more," she says. "A little more." Until a key turns in the door. Immediately I jump down to the floor and hide the brush. Exactly how the job was done shouldn't be what my mother sees first; I hang my gaze on the improvement we've begun. Where the stain was there is still a stain, except not beet-red anymore. It's blue. The orphan dunks her gloved hand in the sink and pulls the stopper. Bleach gurgles away.

My mother is surprised. First thing she does is get confused, which brings in her a dreamy look. A lot of moods try out her face. Something is different, she can tell. She can't tell what, or what to do.

She says, "It's strongest here," then drops her purse and slaps her forehead, bellowing to wake the prophets in the hills, if they know English. "You get over here!" She yanks my father's glasses off, sniffs them, drops them. One lens cracks. "Go! Keep going. Move. Run!"

She chases after, a grown lady, not a person who moves fast. This is emergency behavior. Soon I'm naked in a bathtub, on my knees, my mother pulls my head down by the hair to save my eyes, hosed water flushes over me, the current walling off her shouts. We have come to a time like others I have known. The roughness of the treatment shows her fear for me. The fear is how much I am loved.

The pipes squeak. We're both coughing.

"Go open every window in the house. Stop! Use your — oy a broch — your head. First put pajamas on your skin."

I'm in my bedroom wearing just a pair of panties when the orphan tiptoes up. "What does she think of what we fixed?"

"They itch?" my mother shouts, her voice approaching. "Don't you touch them. Pop 'em wide and let the tears come." Standing in the door she sees the orphan. "Oh." She switches language: "Ah. Sweetness, back in school so soon?"

"It's my first day in school a orphan," says the orphan.

My mother lifts off, adrift again, but now her dream is fogged with tears. A smile cuts through, for the orphan. For me there is only a scolding: "Did you offer your friend a drink?"

The orphan shakes her head. Their silhouettes merge in the hallway as my mother leaves instructions, walking off. She says to finish covering up, and not forget to open everything. Both I accomplish swiftly, even with a towel knotted on my head. Still, by the time I've thrown open my way to the kitchen, the orphan has shoved my station aside. She has planted herself on my stool. Where my documents lie stands a new glass of squash. In the place of my pencil, my father's cracked glasses peer from a plate. My mother digs at the counter with a knife.

She and the orphan both are turned away from me, quiet, absorbed, my mother in her task, the orphan in my mother. A sorrow greater than my own does not exist. I see the clock.

"It started!"

The orphan turns to peer at me, pink tongue slipped in the glass. There is no time to wallow in an ugly sight. The show is a room away.

The sound and motion are delayed only by a twist of the power knob, and a channel switch:

Doug Henning is surprised. He doesn't handle the emotion like my mother. The magician wears expressions like he wears his clothes, a suit of starlight and skintightness. On the stage beside him rises a great cage. An elephant shuffles inside. The shimmer of a lake-wide cloth floats down just at the high point of a gesture from the animal. A dark trunk waving drowns. Doug Henning's broad teeth flash. This year's ambition is clear, and what a notion! What a thing to do! And what a place to allow it. This is where I came from.

"Remember," says Doug Henning. "The utter glory of the world! The utter wonder of it, is totally available to — "

Poof, stillness and dark. One dot of light hangs in the middle of the screen.

"Is it not obvious you've sacrificed the privilege?" My mother has cut off the show.

"No. No! Check my homework!"

"Your achievements in my kitchen I already saw. Your reckless self-endangerment I won't address. Not yet. The property destruction. Your uniform in ruins. I noticed perfectly good fish sticks in the garbage. Plum jam was consciously applied to my cabinet doors."

"It was the orphan." A yellow head pokes from the kitchen doorway. "Her. She made me do it."

"You ask a friend home, you're responsible."

"I didn't ask! She came all of a sudden from the pharmacy."

"Okay. Before we get absurd."

"You can't! You can't you can't you can't you can't!"

"Why's that?"

"He comes on only once a year."

"In other words he'll come again."

"Who knows? What if not? Or what if he comes over there, but we don't get him here? The first time I don't think we got him. He's not from local programming. He's from the States. Like me."

She says, "That man is a Canadian."

The television crackles off spare electricity.

"Sweetness!" my mother says, but not to me. The orphan comes, still chocolate-smeared. My mother takes the towel off my head and with it wipes that dirty face. An orphan squints with pleasure while a mother lets her daughter's eyes drip tears. "Your friend would like to see you safely off." The orphan mentions dinner. "Next time we'll plan for it."

The elevator sinks. I count each floor by every jolt as we fall, eyes on the door. The orphan breathes behind.

Six. Five.

"You look gorgeous," she says.

Four.

"Really cute. It's like no style anyone's seen yet, like of a real star. You'll get loads of attention. You'll feel very proud. But people will be jealous, and for that you will have to be strong."

Two. I whirl around to face the mirror and the news catches up. Gold yellow stains me like a melted crown. Sorrow comes gushing up again, cascading over me. She rushes to dive in with an embrace but I keep her out. I finger-wag, telling her this: "I only came to represent the class!"

"I know you came!" she says. "That day the people brought good things. For dinner I had marble cake, the best I ever had. Did you get a piece? Did you taste the herring?"

"You lie." I realize this now. "How many best cakes can there be? So about me helping with your party: I will not. Just celebrate as usual with that shit-breath cat."

The words are fuller of my feelings than what usually gets out, but she is so crammed full of hers that mine don't make a stir. She only tweaks a dainty portion of her cowlick. "Zeessie washes herself eighty more times a day than you do," she says, "if you wash yourself once."

Ground. Though I hold the door open she stays inside.

She says, "Wasn't that fun with homework? We could think of more activities like that. Remember how I helped you all the way home? How we ran! We're good friends. If we made a mistake today tomorrow we'll make it right."

"You made it."

She keeps harvesting that tuft, busily pulling nothing up. "You never said stop."

"I can't see my own head! You can. You didn't say one word. Why? That was your mistake. You make mistakes on purpose. You think no one will figure it out." She only looks at me, her hand continuing to work. I have given her something to think about. Here's more: "Your father's broken. The way you're going you'll break him worse. Your mother caught her sickness off your cat."

Hairs snap. She flicks them, radiant and short, quick fallers, in the air between us. Wordless, she walks out.

The next day is full of troubles from its earliest thought. A sun hat will cover it best. The weather worries me. It's not so sunny. Questions will come, and how to explain this: My mother has written a note to show the office. The hat stays on indoors.

But the trouble I expect is never first to come. The orphan sits on the stoop outside my lobby. Beside her rests a plastic crate, gray, capped with a board of wood which is secured with rope. She pushes herself to her feet. She comes behind me, helps my book bag off, and slips it onto her bare back.

"What kind of sandwich did your mother make today?" she says. "Salami? Jam." She bends and hoists the crate, as well, joggling it to reckon with a moving load. Gold eyes peer through the slats.

Who will decide the destinations between home and school and back? The orphan takes too big a part in her own scheduling. Like she won't do the same in mine? She leaves the group without a parent or permission. Last spring, Amalya Blatt had an appointment for a cavity at noon, and saw the orphan on the sizing bench at Ivgi Shoes, alone, being measured. On a field trip to Nili Street, she snuck into the bakery and bought napoleon cake for a smile. And, summer break, I think I saw her in another city. I was traveling with my summer camp to see the ships in Haifa. On the docks a girl like me sat on a milk crate, thin legs folded Eastern-style, skirt tucked like a diaper. A patent leather lady's purse was hanging down her side, nobody watching her as she played dress-up in the shadow of the cranes, while men in foreign sailing clothes arrived and went.

A blue-green truck rolls past. It pauses at the stop sign on the corner, flashing left, left. Women sit in the open bed, cloth covering most of the heads. The olive pickers, hiding their contempt. The orphan ducks behind too thin a trunk.

Why go on? I should have abided by the conduct in the grieving home. I could have completed the assignment with the lawful words.

The truck turns. Children of other buildings run out in uniforms of different schools.

"Sometimes she's with me all day long," the orphan says.

She sidesteps the ficus and starts to go, her crate leading the way, my schoolbag following.

"Would you have guessed?" she says. "I never told anyone till you. We'll leave her in the bomb shelter. At break we'll sit with her, I'll open up the crate and for the first five minutes she'll stay close. We'll take our shoes off. She will lick every single toe. You're going to get to know her really close. Cats are tigers. I can work her into it and out of it. I know her a long time." She hands the crate to me. The heavy load does not like being passed.

The orphan dips her hand into her collar.

In the locket she pulls out, young Zeessie looks more like a fawn. The face is miniature, but the eyes and ears full-grown. The red furred torso is stocky, the legs tapered and long, lengthening as she stretches up out of a catnap on a washcloth, spine strained like a bow, hamstrings taut. Pointed head the arrow, baby eyes the shine, she's ready, aiming to advance her education in the world.

The orphan clicks the locket shut. It doesn't look fake. The metal is handsome in all its stages, as much where she has polished it as where she has neglected. I did not think the orphan would be carrying a thing so good.

Copyright © 2004 by Naama Goldstein

Table of Contents

Contents

Part 1

Olim (Ascending)

The Conduct for Consoling

The Verse in the Margins

Pickled Sprouts

A Pillar of a Cloud

The Roberto Touch


Part 2

veYordim (and Descending)

Anatevka Tender

Barbary Apes

The Worker Rests Under the Hero Trees
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Customer Reviews