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Dolly

 

Old age, she thinks—what a strange thing to happen to a little girl. Her hands, which nothing passed through unchanged, feel gnarled. Her knees, which broke in half when she prayed to double her wisdom, wander as she walks. Her body seems to forget some of its parts. She wonders if extra bones, those little dickens, might be involved. Who’d you expect to be content all that time, out of sight under someone’s skin? It’s the same slippery thing with memories. This morning she and her friends made up a story about someone’s wife. Being someone’s wife. How funny to think of ever being a wife! Then a mother, someone’s mother! Nurtz! Her sister said. She cocks her head, in love with the sudden bird call, Nurtz! She hears Dolly—Dad’s nickname for her—in a tolling bell. There’s Dad now at the head of the table saying grace, cutting the loaf. Thumb-nailing the cross in the bread crust to foil gypsies hunting for children.

 

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