As Annie lay dying in her bed, she tried to remember a time when she had been truly and completely happy. This was the way she began each day—sifting through the debris of her life. After the sponge bath and the pills and the long, painful trip to the bathroom.

Lately she had taken to reviewing her past chronologically. This morning she was up to sixth grade, the year she started puberty. She was remembering her morbid fascination with her strange new body, how she would lock herself in the bathroom and examine the two tiny mounds of flesh that had sprouted on her chest and inspect the little hairs that had started to proliferate under her arms.

Her mother’s knock at the bedroom door invaded her reverie.

“I made soup,” her mother said, entering the room tentatively, the shabby dress draped over her thin frame like a shroud, the wisps of white hair sticking out of the gray head scarf she always wore. She put her lips to her only child’s forehead.

Annie made a weak attempt to jerk her head away. “I’m not hungry.”

“How are you going to get betta if you don’t eat?” Her mother sat down on the chair by Annie’s bed.

“I’m not going to get betta, Ella,” Annie said, mocking her mother’s East European accent. “Didn’t you hear what the doctors said?”

“The doctors!” She waved her hand in the air as though she were shooing away a fly. “I’ll go get the soup for you now.”

“Didn’t you hear me? I don’t want any,” Annie said, but her mother was out the door before she had finished her sentence. Annie’s life had consisted of a series of submissions to the will of this stubborn old woman. The rigorous worship of a God she didn’t believe in, the desperate pursuit of the husband she had never wanted; all her pathetic little rebellions were ruled by her mother as well. Annie couldn’t think of a single thing she had ever done of her own volition.

Ella came back to the room a few minutes later, carrying a tray with the soup. Pulling a chair next to the bed, she dipped the spoon into the bowl and brought it to her daughter’s lips.

Annie turned her head toward the wall. “I told you. I’m not hungry.”

Ella continued to hold the spoon and Annie knew she would hold it like that forever if necessary.

“I can feed myself,” she said, grabbing the spoon and sending its contents splattering over the quilt. “Now look what you made me do,” she said, collapsing back into the hollow of her bed.

Ella had already left the room and in less than a minute was back with a wet washcloth. After vigorously scrubbing away the stain, she repositioned herself beside Annie with the soup spoon. Annie opened her mouth and swallowed. The soup tasted like metal; everything tasted like metal now. “No more,” she said. “I’ll puke it all up if I eat any more.”

“Maybe later,” Ella said, putting the tray on the bureau with the flock of white geese painted on it, a deceptively sweet and simple relic of her complicated childhood. The geese were faded and scratched and one of them was missing half a wing, but they were all still there, and they would be there after she was dead. As would everything else in this room: the bed, the needlepoint pillows, the watercolor of a hut in the woods that reminded her mother of the house where she had spent four years in hiding during the war, the sterling silver candlesticks she had dug up from the garden behind her parents’ house in Bardejov after the liberation of Czechoslovakia. All these things would outlive her, but eventually they, too, would die. Maybe a thousand years from now they would be unearthed by archaeologists searching to discover the secrets of the dreary lives of the people who had once inhabited Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, lives that would be rendered fascinating by the passage of the ages. The needlepoint would have rotted away by then and the furniture couldn’t stand the ravages of time either. Perhaps the candlesticks would survive. But maybe there wouldn’t be any people by then; or maybe there would be no earth; or maybe there just wouldn’t be any more Jews. Considering all that, give or take a couple of years, what did it matter when she died?

Ella walked over to the trunk at the foot of the bed and took out another quilt, for it was a cold winter day, and Mr. Schweid refused to allow the thermometer in the drafty apartment to go a degree above the minimum temperature required by law. The rents in the neighborhood had skyrocketed in recent years and the landlord would have liked to have gotten rid of them long ago, but whenever he tried, Ella called Rabbi Rothstein and Mr. Schweid never had the nerve to say no to the great rabbi. One year, when her mother had to take three months off from her job at the brassiere factory because of a fractured hip, Rabbi Rothstein had even gotten him to lower the rent.

 Ella tucked the extra quilt under Annie’s chin. “I’ll wash your hair later?” she said as she bent down and buried her face in Annie’s head.

“Just let me sleep,” Annie said, closing her eyes.

Ella pulled a chair up to the sewing machine. “You sleep, I’ll sew,” she said. “I’m making kitchen curtains for Mrs. Lipschitz. She thinks the man across the street is spying on her. Like anyone would be interested in a mieskeit like her,” her mother said as she opened the bottom drawer of the bureau and took out a swatch of blue-and-white-checkered material.

“Why are you making curtains for her when you hate the woman?” Annie asked, opening her eyes.

“She needs, I make,” Ella said.

“The bum who sleeps in front of the subway station on Avenue T could use a little privacy. Why don’t you make him curtains?” Annie said, to which her mother responded with a sly grin. She proceeded to measure the fabric, expertly pulling it from her nose to the length of her arm. Her mother had always been an enigma to Annie. It often seemed to her that somewhere beneath all the grief she thought everything was one enormous joke.           

“Mrs. Lipschitz?” Annie said. “The Mrs. Lipschitz who’s always going on grapefruit fasts?”

“The famous dieter,” her mother said. “You should see her at kiddish. She wraps the rugelach in a paper napkin and hides them in the pockets of her coat.”

 Annie didn’t respond. She seemed to have drifted off to sleep. That’s good, Ella thought to herself. Sleep is the best medicine. But Annie wasn’t sleeping. She was resuming her excavation of her wasted life. The narrative of it was fixed in her mind like the plot of a movie she had seen too many times and never wanted to see again. Still, she was certain there was something that wasn’t part of her usual stash of memories, something wonderful that had happened a very long time ago. She could almost touch it with the tip of her tongue, but it kept slithering away, like one those fantastically illogical morphine dreams that would reappear to her in bits and pieces. Maybe if she didn’t think and just let the thoughts flow through her mind of their own accord.

It suddenly struck her that her long-lost memory had something to do with God. She thought about that day, it was her sophomore year of high school, when she and her friend Sheila Tannenbaum were going on one of their long Shabbos afternoon strolls. They had been talking about their favorite subject, death. She couldn’t remember who came up with it first, but they spent the entire afternoon walking around the neighborhood saying to each other, “We’re all going to die anyway.” They walked around like that for hours, repeating the words over and over again to each other. “We’re all going to die anyway. We’re all going to die anyway,” until they had rendered the words meaningless, and the idea of death itself meaningless as well. She and Sheila used to have long talks about the inconsequentiality of life in the face of the inevitability of death. They would argue about whether the soul lived on after the body died. They agreed that since none of it made any sense anyway, they might as well believe whatever gave them the most comfort. It was usually at this stage of the conversation that Sheila would point out that that same logic could be used to support the belief in the existence of God.

 Sheila was the only person Annie had ever told that the God she had been praying to all her life didn’t exist. Annie remembered the stunned look on her best friend’s face and the way the bright noonday sun made Sheila’s braces sparkle when she opened her mouth in shock and surprise; she remembered the itchy feel of the heavy woolen socks she was wearing that day and the deep indentation the rubber bands that held them up made on her calves, and the stiff feel of her jaw when she made her confession.

Sheila had noticed during the morning prayers that Annie wasn’t moving her lips in silence the way everyone was supposed to, and later during recess in the schoolyard, after they had finished their egg salad sandwiches, Sheila asked Annie about it.

“Your lips weren’t moving? Why?” Sheila had asked.

“Because I wasn’t davening,” Annie answered matter-of-factly.

“Why weren’t you davening, Annie?”

“What’s the point of praying to a no one?”

That morning the rabbi had shown them a film about the Holocaust. It wasn’t the first time Annie had heard about the Holocaust. Far from it. The Holocaust had been a constant presence in her life for as long as she could remember. Her mother had told her about those four years she had spent hiding out in that attic so often that she felt as though they were her own memories. Annie’s father, who had died when she was five, had spent the war in Theresienstadt and her mother told her stories about his life in the concentration camp as well. How he made fur coats for the Nazis, how he had taken the bodies out of the showers.

She knew the story of the Holocaust the way other children knew the stories of “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Three Little Pigs”; still, seeing those images of the emaciated bodies thrown one on top of the other like rag dolls made the stories she had been hearing all her life assume a reality they never had before. Perhaps, she imagined with jolt, the bodies projected on the screen were the very same bodies her father had been ordered to dispose of.

Afterward the principal called an assembly to talk about the film. He explained that if the Holocaust hadn’t happened Israel would never have come into existence. “But how could Hashem let this happen to His Chosen People?” Annie had asked him, to which he responded that it was a test of the Jewish people’s faith in Him. But she knew that was bullshit. This God, her secret friend, with whom she had shared all her joys, all her sorrows, all her love, was a liar and a fraud.

The last time Annie had seen Sheila was fifteen years ago. She had run into her at the vegetable market on Kings Highway. Like all the other girls in her class, Sheila had married in her early twenties. She was wearing a wig that was styled into a short, neat pageboy; Sheila’s hair had always been wild and curly, and she had had a sexy body, with a flat stomach and a big ass, but being a baby factory had left her as fat and shapeless as all the other Jewish amoebas who could be seen walking around Sheepshead Bay, schlepping their children and their groceries, the latest addition to the Tribe strapped to what used to be their waists. It seemed to Annie that the old Sheila was gone, and she pretended not to see her, but before she could make an escape her friend spotted her.

“It’s a wasteland. An intellectual wasteland,” Sheila told her, getting right to the point. It had been years since the two friends had seen each other. Sheila had moved to an ultra-Orthodox community in Monsey, New York, and their lives had taken such different paths that they had had no choice but to drift apart. Annie was surprised and happy to see that, despite her frumpy appearance, Sheila hadn’t lost her spark

“So, I take it all this doesn’t agree with you,” Annie had said.

“No, as a matter of fact it does,” Sheila responded. “It’s kind of nice having everything spelled out for you.” It startled Annie to see that Sheila’s nihilism ran even deeper than her own; to embrace this way of life without even believing in it was cynicism of the highest order, it was as though Sheila were dismissing her entire existence with a shrug. Annie was trying to formulate these thoughts into words, but then Sheila’s baby started crying and the children were hungry, and her old friend cut her off, saying that it wasn’t a good time to talk.

“I’m going to bring the curtains over to Mrs. Lipschitz now,” Ella said, interrupting her thoughts. She was wearing the blue coat Annie had given her five years ago, and had a long blue scarf wrapped three times around her neck. Bundled up like that she looked like a kid getting ready to go out and play in the snow and Annie felt a sting of affection for her mother.

 “I’ll pick up your medicine on the way home,” Ella said. “And some farmer cheese. Later I’ll make blintzes.”

“They say there’s going to be a blizzard,” Annie told her.

“So, I should be afraid of a little snow?” her mother said, and she was on her way.

Outside Annie could hear the sound of the wind. It made the branches of the maple tree brush against the wall. When she was a little girl, at night the sound of the branches scraping against the wall used to frighten her. Although even in her child’s mind she knew it was irrational, she always thought the strange sound was the Nazis slowly digging their way through the wall of the house. Her mother thought the invasion would come by way of the front door. They never discussed it, but Annie had always assumed that this was why she slept in the living room, with a cast iron skillet under the couch.

Annie could see from where she was lying that it had started to snow. She dragged herself over to a chair by the window. The wind had died down to a loud whisper, and it wasn’t snowing nearly as heavily as predicted, just enough to cover the rooftops of the houses and the sidewalks and the tiny front lawns with a patina of whiteness. In front of the house across the way, the head of the Virgin Mary was topped with a snowy white cap. It looked as though she were wearing a white yarmulke, the kind the rabbis wore on Yom Kippur. When Mr. and Mrs. Levine moved down to Florida, the Catallozzis, a young Catholic couple, bought their house. They were the only non-Jews on the block and they seemed intent on asserting their religious identity. During Christmas their house was defiantly ablaze with a thousand lights, and there was a blown-up Santa with a flashing red nose standing cheerfully on the lawn and a Nativity scene made of plastic displayed on the front porch. Three weeks before Easter, Mr. Catallozzi attached a gigantic Easter bunny to the roof their house, and the children and their friends hunted for Easter eggs in the pachysandra.

Looking out at the lovely whiteness, Annie was struck with the notion that her long-forgotten memory had to do with the color white, with a street filled with whiteness, with a sky filled with whiteness, with a flawlessly white and wonderful world. Maybe it had something to do with snow.

Winter had always been Annie’s favorite season, because of the snow. She would lie down in the cold whiteness on the patch of grass outside her yeshiva and make outlines of her body in the snow. Until the rabbi called her into his office and reprimanded her for it. Such immodest behavior was inappropriate for a frum girl, he had said.

 The trip to the window had exhausted her and as she staggered back to bed the phone rang. She looked at the caller ID. It was Mrs. Reiss, probably phoning to find out if she was dead yet. Annie had been engaged to her son once. The local matchmaker thought they would make a perfect pair, since they were “both so educated.” Joining their chromosomes together would be a “service to humanity,” she had told her. David was living in Israel, where he had moved after finishing his PhD in physics at Columbia. Annie had just finished all the required coursework in graduate school for a doctorate in English literature, but she couldn’t bring herself to write her dissertation. She was going nowhere fast and she figured that getting married might give her something to hook into. At least it would get her mother off her back.

Finding a husband for Annie was the only ambition Ella had ever had for her daughter. She didn’t care if it was a happy marriage; she didn’t even care if the marriage lasted, or if it produced any children; all she cared about was that Annie be married. Ella had seen the humiliation her sister Sophie had endured from being an old maid and she couldn’t bear the thought of her daughter suffering that same fate.

It wasn’t until after they had spent several months corresponding back and forth that Annie and her intended finally met. David had a job teaching at Yale for the summer and the day he got off the plane he came to her apartment to meet her. He was tall, which was a relief, and he didn’t shuffle his feet when he walked. Overall, he was a welcome change from what had been cast before her so far.

At the end of the week, he proposed marriage. Annie told him that before she accepted she thought it was only fair to tell him that she wasn’t a virgin. When she asked him how he felt about that, he told her he would have to think it over, and after a weekend of deliberation he announced that he had decided to forgive her. That summer, she would go to visit him in New Haven every weekend. The head of the synagogue’s sisterhood arranged for her to stay at the house of one of the congregants. One evening after dinner, on the way back to the house, he suggested that they stop off at his apartment. He said that he had been thinking about it and that he had decided they might as well “do it.” Since she wasn’t a virgin anyway. It turned out that he was.

 David went back to Israel in the fall and they resumed their correspondence. When Annie began to express misgivings about moving to Israel, he wrote back and told her that his first priority was Israel, his second priority was physics, and his third priority was her. It was only two months until their wedding and Annie had never seen her mother so happy, so she decided to grin and bear it, but when David came back to the States after his grandmother died and he told her he didn’t want her to come to the funeral because he didn’t want his sister to meet her since “she isn’t corrupt like you,” that was the last straw. She called David at his mother’s house and told him they were through.

 

After David, Annie went wild. A friend of hers from graduate school was moving to Arizona and she managed to transfer the lease to her fifth-floor walk-up in the Upper East Side over to Annie. Deborah also bequeathed Annie her job teaching English literature at an exclusive private school in Riverdale.

Annie had hoped that by moving out of Brooklyn she would be able to finally liberate herself from her mother. But she was never free. Not when she ate pig’s feet at the German restaurant on East 86th Street, or when she slept with Wolfgang Richter, the son of an ex-Nazi; one Sunday she went to a church in the neighborhood and knelt and crossed herself. But her mother was always there, like some invisible omnipotent being.

The illness started creeping up on her last spring. It had started with a cough that sounded like a foghorn. She didn’t think much of it and when she mentioned it to her doctor during her annual checkup he didn’t think much of it either. There had been an unusually large amount of pollen in the air that spring. The cough was probably just an allergic reaction to the pollen. Then she started spitting up blood.

When she collapsed going up the stairs one day after work, her neighbor Brian Murphy carried her up to her apartment and called her mother and told her what had happened. Ella showed up at her door less than an hour later. She threw some of Annie’s clothes in a suitcase and announced that she was taking her home. Brian, who was a chauffeur, drove them back to Sheepshead Bay in his boss’s limousine.

Shortly after she returned home, Annie started to get better. Ella was convinced that the reason Annie was sick was that someone had given her the evil eye, and the first thing she did upon Annie’s return was to administer the treatment for casting the evil spirits from her body. The remedy consisted of soaking pieces of bread in salted water and wiping them into various creases of her body. Apparently it worked, because after five weeks the cough had all but disappeared and there was no more dizziness or nausea.

Those first few months at home with her mother, Annie was happier than she had ever been in her life. She would lie in bed watching soap operas all day, and in the evening, while her mother prepared dinner, she would sit at the kitchen table, sipping tea with lemon and rereading her way through Jane Austen. She decided to move out of the apartment in Manhattan and get her old job at the yeshiva back. There was no point in fighting it anymore. Her mother was the only person in the world she had ever loved; she was the only person she would ever love. For the first time in her adult life she felt peace of mind. But then she started spitting up blood again and the doctors told her it was too late. There was nothing they could do for her. And so they sent her home to die. None of the specialists ever managed to identify what was wrong with her exactly. All they could come up with was that the illness had been caused by some combination of “genetic predisposition” and “environmental insult,” possibly exposure to some kind of deadly toxin.

 

Annie was falling into one of her cavernous sleeps when she heard her mother’s key in the door. She listened to the sound of her stomping the snow off her boots, and the click, click, click, click, and clang as she unlatched the row of Medico locks and the police bar.

“Did you sleep?” her mother asked when she came into the bedroom.

“Sort of,” she said.

 “Mr. Stein said because of the snow they didn’t get their delivery today,” Ella reported. “The truck drivers, they were afraid of the blizzard that didn’t come. But Mr. Stein said maybe Mr. Levy at the Walgreen’s by Avenue S would have some extras. He called, but the line was busy.”

Annie nodded.

“So was Mrs. Lipschitz relieved to have her modesty preserved at last?”

“She didn’t have a curtain rod,” her mother said.

“You didn’t go out and buy her one?”

“She expected, I’m sure.”

“Was she grateful, at least?” Annie asked.

“Oh, very grateful,” her mother said, grinning ironically. “She offered me a chipped sugar bowl from the 99-cent store. She said she got it for a wedding present for Mrs. Ruben’s daughter, but since I did such a nice job, she decided to give me the priceless treasure instead.”

“Fanny Ruben is getting married? She must be a hundred and twelve.”

“Mrs. Rabinsky found her a nice accountant. A widower with six grown children.”

 “Well I hope you told Mrs. Lipschitz to shove her sugar bowl up her big fat ass,” Annie said.

Ella laughed.

“What did you expect?” Annie asked. “You’re always setting yourself up. I’ve never been able to figure it out. Is it your inferiority complex or your superiority complex that drives you to put yourself out for people for whom you have nothing but contempt?”

“What kind of nonsense are you talking?” her mother asked.

“Mrs. Reiss called while you were out,” Annie said. A look of pure, unadulterated hatred crossed her mother’s face, turning her eyes into slits of steel. Ever since the breakup she and Mrs. Reiss had become mortal enemies. David’s mother never missed an opportunity to tell Ella how happily married her genius son was. Two weeks after Annie broke up with him a matchmaker found him a beautiful Sabra from a wealthy family. Within a couple of months they were married and the poor girl had borne him seven children so far.

 Ella pursed her lips together so tightly that the blood drained out of them.You didn’t talk to her, I hope,” she said.

“Don’t worry. I didn’t,” said Annie, who usually never missed an opportunity to talk to David’s mother. Whenever she saw her on the street, or ran into her at a store in the neighborhood, she would go out of her way to say something to Mrs. Reiss. She liked to watch the woman squirm as she fed her little bits of poison about her godlike son. Once she had even told her, in not so many words, that David was lousy in bed. But she was too weak for any of that now. The phone started ringing and Ella went to the kitchen to answer it. When she came back into the room a little while later, she was smiling one of her sardonic smiles.

“Guess who that was?”

“Who?”

“Mrs. Lipschitz. Her daughter, she went crazy over the curtains. She said that if she could have such curtains her kitchen would be like House Beautiful. Hint. Hint. Hint.”

“Don’t tell me you said yes.”

“What do you think I am, an idiot?”

“So what did you tell her?”

Her mother grinned, and her beady little eyes shining with mischief, she responded, “I told her to tell her daughter to put the curtains up her fat tuchus.”

 Annie opened her mouth to laugh, but instead of laughing her entire body was seized with an uncontrollable fit of coughing. Globules of blood the size of chickpeas came flying out of her mouth. There was a part of her that couldn’t help thinking what an interesting disease this was. The coughing fit seemed to go on forever, and when it was over a searing pain coursed through Annie’s midsection, making her feel as though she were being sliced in half by a red-hot sword.

“It hurts, Ella,” she cried. Her mother emptied the basket of pill bottles that lay in a heap on Annie’s night table onto the bed, and rummaged through the bottles, looking for the morphine.  

“Here,” she said, victoriously, retrieving a stray tab of the precious narcotic that she found hidden in a crevice of straw in the basket. Holding her daughter’s head with one hand and bringing a glass of water to her mouth with the other, she gave her the pill. “You sleep now. I’ll go get the medicine. Sleep. Go to sleep.” With that she ran out of the room and within seconds was out of the house.

Annie closed her eyes and waited for the narcotic to work its magic. She had always assumed that there was some great wisdom granted the dying, that, considering the circumstances, it would be only fair for them to be given a sneak preview of the great unknown. But there was no secret knowledge, no coming attractions, there was only this vast retreat into the all too familiar self. And then, of course, there was the morphine.

She wondered what excitement lay in store for her today. Ever since she had been consigned to her bed four months ago, her dreams were the only thing she had to look forward to. Although she could never remember any of them in their entirety, whenever she woke up she always had the feeling that she had been on some great adventure.

Annie was awakened by the weight of her mother resting her head on her chest, listening to the sound of her still-beating heart. She had been dreaming about floating on a cloud that was dripping with blood.

“You feeling better now?”

“In my next life I’m going to be a drug addict,” she said.

“The pain?”

“It only bothers me when I’m awake.”

“I got the pills.”

“So Mr. Stein’s friend came through?”

“Not exactly. He had it, but he told Mr. Stein he didn’t. So I went over there and gave him what for.”

 “What did you say to him?”

“I told him he should rot in hell for not sparing a couple of pills to a sick girl in pain. I told him I wasn’t even going to talk about what his children will think of him when they find out what he is. Except that they will hate him and curse him, and their children will hate him and curse him, and their children’s children will hate him and curse him. ‘Who will say Kaddish for you?’ I said to him.”

“You’re a good mother, Ella,” Annie said. Her mother stared back at her speechlessly.

“So guess who I ran into on Avenue R?” she said after several seconds.

 “Who?”

“Mrs. Schwartz,” Ella said. Tears started welling up in her eyes.     

“What’s wrong, Ella?” Annie asked. She felt an aching surge of sympathy for her mother. It was an emotion she had spent a lifetime trying to suppress.

“She asked me how much would I charge to make her curtains. She told me that Mrs. Lipschitz said I was very ‘reasonable.’ She said she already has material, so maybe, she said, would I give her a discount.”

“What? Mrs. Lipschitz said she paid you for the curtains?”

“Yes,” she said.

“What a cunt,” Annie said

“Yes, a cunt,” her mother said, uttering the word for the first time in her life. The tears were running down her cheeks now.

Annie couldn’t remember the last time she had seen her mother cry. All those years of wrenching grief after Annie’s father died. She cried while she cooked, she cried while she cleaned, she cried when she got Annie ready for school; and all those grueling hours she spent hunched over the sewing machine at the brassiere factory, she cried there too. Then one day the crying just stopped. It was as though she had used up her personal allotment of tears. The salt of all those tears had eaten away at the skin of her cheeks. Annie always thought that that was why her mother’s face was so wrinkled.

“You know what a liar Mrs. Lipschitz is,” Annie said. “Promise me. No more favors for stupid people.”

And then Ella let out a wail. Kneeling down at Annie’s side, she held her daughter in her arms. “Take me, take me,” she said, lifting her eyes to the cracked ceiling. “Please, I beg of You, take me.”

 “Oh, Mama,” Annie said, patting her mother gently on the head. “I’m so sorry, Mama. I’m so very, very sorry.”

Ella stayed there kneeling by the bed, holding Annie in her arms, her head resting on the mattress beside her, the tears flowing silently out of her eyes. This is peace, Annie thought to herself. This is my eternity. Her mother lingered there like that for quite some time and then she kissed Annie on the top of her head and stood up. She told her that she had bought the farmer cheese. “I’ll make you the blintzes now,” she said, and left to go into the kitchen.

It had started to snow again; it looked like the blizzard that had been promised all day had finally arrived. The wind was howling, and outside the window the air was filled with swirling clouds of white. All the houses and the trees and the lampposts and the Virgin Mary had disappeared into billows of magical whiteness. And then it came to her. The Fog Man. One spring there had been an infestation of Japanese beetles in the neighborhood and twice a month a truck would come to spray the air with insecticide. The Fog Man would honk his horn three times quickly in succession to signal that he was there. Whenever Annie heard his honk, she would stop whatever she was doing and run outside and immerse herself in the sweet-smelling fog. Losing herself in the white clouds of smoke, she would run with her arms stretched out, pretending that she was flying in the sky. She would talk to Hashem and tell Him how much she loved Him. She would think about how all of God’s creations were one and the same. The clouds, the flowers, the trees, the stars in the sky at night. And herself. Except she was slightly different. Because she was one of the Chosen People. Twirling around on the sidewalk in the fog like a cloud she would think about these things and rejoice. Annie smiled to herself, happy to have finally retrieved her long-lost memory. How perfect, she thought to herself as she drifted off into a long, endless sleep.

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