“The river ran angry that day, with water raging loud at the sun for burning it off the peaceful granite slopes of the High Sierra. Falling into a spring melt, it tumbled down, flowing as something altogether different through the pine canyon. Flowing cold and fierce. Even with the river talking to her, telling, Elisabeth never could have predicted. In all her circular thinkings and imaginings, her mind never conceived of such a day. She didn’t yet know a man could turn like that.”
“Three months after his aging daughter Rhonda gave him a one-year-old poodle-Lab-golden-retriever mix to keep as a pet, Felder came to believe that the dog — who looked at him mournfully whenever he went to the bathroom and waited for him by the door, as still as a statue, until he came out — was in fact none other than the reincarnation of his sister, Esther, may her name be a blessing. Esther, who was seven years his elder and his de facto mother, had been taken to Bergen-Belsen during the war and had never been heard from since.”
“It was almost dawn. A bird started to call from the church roof, and Tara could see the outlines of her apartment buildings opposite the road. It seemed like the beginning of just another day, but she had crossed a bridge that had collapsed after her. She sat spent, her tears dried up. She had to go back home, to her broken life; she had nowhere else to go. She pulled herself up and walked slowly out of the church compound. Her head throbbed with dull pain; the events of the night had triggered a migraine attack.”
“Wearing the brooch was a risk, but surely no one would recognize it. Audrey Thorpe lingered by the wall in the lobby of Savannah’s Jepson Center for the Arts. Witers circulated with trys of champagne and bite-sied crab cakes while the museum’s donors mingled and congratulated themselves on another fine exhibition. Audrey leaned against a linen-skirted table for support and returned a friend’s wave across the crowd. At her age, the room’s pale stone floor was almost as treacherous as an ice rink.”
“It was finally decided that Yankel Lewinkopf, the baker’s apprentice (who it happens was an orphan whom nobody would miss), should get on a horse and travel in the direction of Smolskie. Upon his arrival, he should find whatever official he could from the district and relate the whole case. As far as the elders of Kreskol were concerned, this might be too important not to get the gentile authorities involved.”
“I know it well: the height of summer in the low country. The maddening swelter that in less civilized eras drove men to murder their wives and light out for the territories. Fortunately for the women of Overlook, those days were long gone. There were rules to abide by. The west had been tamed. There was nowhere for a man to go, which meant couples all over town had opened their Friday newspapers together to read about the hit and run, how the girl was riding her bicycle home from work when she was dragged a hundred feet down an unlit highway by an unknown motorist.”
In the last five years, I would say it would be very hard for anyone to say, oh, I just didn’t know; I’ve never heard of anyone complaining about this. So that’s been our work. There’s a case that has gone to the Supreme Court with a number of complainants, and WeSpeakOut Is one of them. The goal is to get the practice banned in India so that it is illegal, so that even if a religious leader insists that it’s mandatory, it’s going to be illegal.
“Oh, Darya, you have to see this. A strutting peacock just entered our yard!” Solomonida stood on tiptoe, leaning forward until I worried she might tumble right through the open window in her eagerness. The late morning sunlight glinted off her jeweled headdress and found an answering glow in the wisps of blonde braid that had worked their way out from under the rim as she sewed.
“Peacock?” I stared at her and sighed. It wasn’t fair. My older sister was lovely, even at thirty-one. Not just beautiful, either, but vivid and charming—outgoing, outspoken, eager to interact with life beyond our courtyard gates. Next to her I felt like the quiet mouse she teasingly called me. “How would a peacock get into our yard?”
“Everyone knows that once upon a time there were nine muses. They were known as the daughters of Zeus, and wise men loved them, for they bestowed the gift of genius. Sing in me O Muse! Cried Homer, and the muses answered: filling his voice and spinning out his mortal talents to make immortal tales. What not everyone knows is that once there existed another sister, who chose a different path.”