By Richard Zimler
In September of 1931, the French painter Fernand Léger visited the United States for the first time. He was fifty years old and already famous for his darkly outlined, colorful figures. In early October, while in New York, one of his lower molars became infected. At the time, my father did all the dental work for Marcel Berenger, the Madison Avenue gallery owner. One evening, Berenger called our home. Could his close friend and compatriot Léger come by that night?
Near midnight, Léger arrived wearing a tweed coat and cap. My father told me years later, "He had panicked eyes, and I knew he was going to be a difficult patient. " In fact, he sat frozen in the dental chair and mumbled in French when my father didn't have his hands in his mouth. Was he cursing? Praying? My father spoke little French and couldn't say for sure.
"I remember that he sweated a lot and that he smelled of some peculiar floral soap," Dad told me.
The problematic molar was easily cleaned and filled. Léger shook my father's hands exuberantly and thanked him with great praise for his dental skills. In his awkward English, he confessed that the toothache had made him forgetful, and that he only had two American one-dollar bills in his wallet – just enough for cab fare back to his hotel. Of course, he had no checking account in America. If my father were willing to wait until the next day, he would mail a check drawn on Monsieur Berenger's account. My father said not to bother, that it was his pleasure to work on the molar of so talented an artist. Léger reluctantly agreed and parted a happy man.
Exactly three days later, however, a small flat package arrived by messenger. It was twelve inches square, wrapped with brown paper and tied with red and white bakery string. "I thought your Aunt Rutya had sent us some of her strange Rumanian pastry," my father told me with a laugh. Inside the package, however, was a small painting Léger had apparently just completed and a signed, two-word note written in French: Avec gratitude.
As children, my brother, two sisters and I called the painting, “The Woman with Stone Hair.”
It’s a portrait of a young woman seated on the ground with long black tresses done in such a way as to make them look solid – like polished obsidian. She has the soft pink skin and dreamy face typical of Léger's female portraits at the time.
The painting was my introduction to modern art. It used to hang in my parents' room, above their bed. Years later, I realized that it must have been a study for Léger's famous work, “The Bather," completed in 1932.
Both my parents adored the painting, and after my mother's death, it seemed to take on the importance of an icon for my father. Sometimes, I'd find him sitting on the green armchair where he usually piled his dirty clothing, holding the canvas, daydreaming. Once, late at night, I found him asleep with the Léger on his lap. At the time, I had no idea why. Children sometimes don’t understand the simplest things.
My mother died on June 6, 1954, of breast cancer. By the time the lump was detected by our family doctor, the disease had spread to her lymph nodes. I was thirteen at the time. I didn't understand why her hair was falling out. My dad explained that Mom was really sick but that I shouldn't worry about her; she was getting the best possible care.
Before I realized that she was dying, she was already dead.
My mother and I had been very close. During her illness, we played endless games of gin rummy after school. Sometimes she liked to draw portraits of me. I'd sit in her bedroom by the windows facing Gramercy Park where the light was strong. She'd sit on her bed with her box of colored pencils. She wore a bright blue beanie to keep her bald head warm. Her eyes were large and brown. She smiled a lot, as if to encourage me. As she sketched, she nibbled bits of Hershey's chocolate bars; it was the only food she could keep down.
Sometimes, she and I would clear off the dining room table and paint together with the sets of Japanese ink that my father found for us at a tiny art supply store on Hudson Street. Mostly she'd paint finches nesting in pine trees. I have two of these studies hanging in my office at Barnard College. Visitors always say, "Oh, so you've been to Japan..."
One strange little painting that she did hangs in my bedroom, however, over my bed. It's a finch, but it has human eyes – my eyes.
My mother was buried at Mt. Sinai Cemetery in Roslyn, out on Long Island. I refused to go to the ceremony and spent the afternoon alone, eating the rest of her chocolate bars in front of the television until I got sick and threw up all over an old Persian rug we had at the time.
After she died, I felt as if I'd been left behind on a cold and deserted planet. It was my father who rescued me. He let me come into his bed at night for a couple months after her death, never uttered even a single complaint for my disturbing his sleep. Nor did he listen to my older siblings' warnings that a 51-year-old man shouldn't share the same bed as his adolescent son. "Forget what they say," he used to tell me. "They don't understand." To get me to stop shivering and fall asleep, he'd rub my hair gently and tell me stories of his youth back in Poland. He spoke of demons from Gehenna, shtetls turned magically upside down, chickens with angels in their eggs. He took great pains to make all the endings happy.
On my insistence, he wrote down two of these stories and tried sending them to children's publishers, but all we got back were mimeographed rejection letters. Editors didn't regard dybbuks and Cossacks as fitting for American children. I still have the manuscripts at the bottom of my linen closet; maybe Jewish lore will come into fashion one day.
My brother and sisters were off on their own by the time my mother died; they were all in their twenties and married. So for the next six years, till I went off to college, my father and I lived alone in our apartment at the corner of Irving Place and East 20th Street. He was a good man, heartbreakingly lonely and prone to distant silences, but attentive when I needed him. After my mother's death, the pride which she’d taken in my smallest accomplishments was magically transferred to him, just like in one of his crazy stories. When I won my high school English award, he sat in the front row of the parent assembly with the tears of an immigrant father streaming down his cheeks.
When my father turned sixty-five, he sold his dental practice and moved permanently into a cottage in Hampton Bays out on Long Island. He gardened, watched New York Met’s baseball games, and scratched out Bach suites on his violin. I spent every other weekend with him.
In later years, when New York winters forced him indoors for weeks at a time, he spent all of January and February with me at my apartment on 91st Street and West End Avenue. He'd read his magic realist novels in the bed that I set up in my living room, snooze, water my plants, browse in the local bookstores. When I'd get home from classes, he'd make me verbena tea. I used to make him jambalaya, his favorite dish, every Saturday.
In February of 1984, he suffered a minor stroke. In the hospital, he developed bacterial pneumonia. Then, something seemed to snap inside him and he grew delirious. One specialist said Alzheimer's disease. A couple others suggested various pathogens that could cause brain lesions. Tests were ordered, but none proved conclusive. It was agreed by default that Alzheimer's had set in-that he'd managed to keep it hidden until illness weakened him. He was 81 years old. I was the only child still living in New York. That spring, I took a leave of absence from my post in the Art History Department at Barnard and spent long afternoons in his cottage, keeping things clean, preparing meals, reading to him on occasion, and watching him snooze. He grew progressively weaker and would sleep most of the time, in the most cockeyed positions, legs and arms dangling over the side of his bed, his head twisted to the side and mouth open. One day, I dared to straighten him out and discovered that he was pliable, like a rag doll. I gingerly moved his legs together and placed his head straight back into the valley of his down pillow. He looked as if he were prepared for burial. So I took his right arm and laid it over the side of the bed and twisted his head. He looked much better that way.
Anyway, the important thing is that after I arranged my father in his bed, I noticed out his window that the crabapple tree in the backyard had become a cloud of soft pink. And that a male cardinal had alighted there. Red feathers and pink petals – life doesn't get much better than that.
Now, a decade later, I still associate the cardinal and the crabapple with my father's illness. When he wasn't sleeping, he'd sometimes kick and scream, froth at the mouth, rant about being held hostage. Toward the end, during the few moments of lucidity that gave both of us a bit of peace, he’d reach for me. "Paulie, you're still here," he'd say. "When will it end?"
His grip was that of an eagle; talons biting into flesh.
Then he would begin to shout again. "I want out! Out! You can't keep me here against my will. I want to see the manager! Where's the manager?"
Pieces of the verbal puzzle I put together made it clear that he often thought he was being held captive in a hotel in San Francisco. At other times, he was convinced he was being dunked underwater by a Cossack marauder – and that his entire village of Jews was being butchered.
I found out that an eighty-one-year-old fights like a teenaged boxer to keep from drowning. His doctor recommended low dosages of tranquilizers. Half a five-milligram Valium usually did the trick.
Once, during a calm moment, I found him sitting on his bed facing the Léger, just like in the old days. We held hands without talking, and then he struggled to his feet to make us verbena tea as a treat.
All of us who loved my father knew he had been constructed of more fragile materials than most people – a man of balsa wood with a rubber-band engine flying off to foreign lands inside his head. So dementia was not totally unexpected. In fact, my two sisters and brother all told me – independently of one another – that they were only surprised he'd stayed sane for so long. They said it easily, as if they were discussing a family pet who'd been gently weakened by an invisible cancer.
My own interpretation of the visions my father had that spring is that there was always a kind of fairy-tale landscape inside him that engulfed him completely in the end. It was a world of shtetls hidden deep inside the forests of Poland – a land of Talmud scholars and kabbalistic magic, but also one of Cossacks and pogroms.
For many years, he escaped such a world successfully, but then, when he weakened physically, it claimed him back.
As we reach the end of our lives, do we all return to our ancestral landscape? Will I, too, return to the threatening forests of Poland even though I've never set foot inside that country?
After he died, when I was sitting alone by his side, listening to the room exhale with relief, I began to tremble. There was no one there to make me verbena tea or rub my hair. No cardinal perched in the crabapple tree.
For about a week, I didn't feel anything but the gaping absence left by his death. My brother and sisters flew in for the funeral. They were willing to help by then because there was no one to nurse. They brought me barbecue chicken from the deli in Hampton Bays and cookies to nibble on in bed. Sometimes I’d go to Westhampton Beach, where I could walk down the strand and think about the past.
I didn't go to the funeral itself; that morning, my body seemed to give out, and I woke up shivering with a high fever and stomach cramps. I wasn’t sorry; I was dreading having to share my grief with people who didn't help me take care of him.
Like my mom, the only thing I could keep down was chocolate. Real food tasted thick and stale.
Two weeks after my father died, I was alone in his house, beginning to inventory the Florida seashells, ceramic figurines, glass paperweights, and other tchochkes that he and my mother had accumulated over the years. It was then that I discovered that the painting by Léger was missing. "The Woman with Stone Hair" had been in his bedroom, of course, right above his nest of pillows. I'd seen it there every day for three months while nursing him. All that was left of it was a tawny square where the sun hadn’t been able to bleach the wall.
I didn't panic. I called up my brother and two sisters to see if they'd seen it; they were the only people who'd spent any more than a few minutes at my father's house since his death.
I called each of them in turn, and they all denied knowing anything about the painting's disappearance.
I don't believe that my describing the personalities of my siblings will help anyone understand why they lied to me. What is important to know is that they hated my father for things that had happened many years before I came along, during their childhoods. After his death, they each made a point of telling me that he was a very different person when they were growing up: strict, unfeeling, vindictive. He didn't listen to them or our mother. They said he liked to humiliate the kids by slapping them in the face when they misbehaved.
They all mentioned these things to explain why they weren't visibly upset at his death. They spoke forcefully and slowly, as if they were prosecutors presenting the evidence against him.
Although it's hard for me to believe, I suppose that their portrait of my father may be accurate; after all, children grow up in different families according to their age. Also, parents often grow more tolerant as their youthful self-righteousness fades, and very possibly my father had changed his whole attitude toward childrearing by the time I came along. Another possibility is that his relationship with my mother improved over the years; when I knew them, my parents were affectionate and playful with each other. Apparently, that was not always the case.
When I told my older brother Mark about the painting, he raised his eyebrows in a theatrical way. "I didn't even know Dad still had it,” he said matter-of-factly.
Hard to believe he could forget a painting worth a few hundred thousand dollars, but I didn't say anything.
When I called Sarah, next in line in our hierarchy, she shouted: "You lost it? You lost the Léger?"
I replied, "It was right there all the time. And then it was gone. Someone stole it."
"How could they steal it?” she moaned. “You were living in the house."
"I wasn't watching every minute. Someone could have walked in, just picked it off the wall and carried it off. If you'll remember, I was pretty depressed at the time and wasn't thinking about such things."
"Well you should have been thinking about them, because now you've really screwed things up. You should have put it in a vault, goddammit."
Then I called Florence, number three in our line of descent. When I was a kid, I was close to her. She played baseball with me, took me to foreign films, taught me how to roller skate in Gramercy Park. She had been bright and daring, had had thick dark hair, a quick smile, and long, elegant hands. After my mother died, however, she hardly ever came to visit me and my father. Now, she considered herself the only intelligent member of our family – the scholar. She taught Anthropology at Oberlin College and spent her summers digging up Hittite tablets in Turkey. She had neither a lover nor partner – no children, no friends. Her conversations with me had grown more and more bitter over the years. She was like a neverending winter whose days grow darker and colder with each coming year. Her particular brand of contempt for our father had mostly to do with him supposedly belittling her for pursuing an academic career. She hated me because I didn't hate him.
"That's just great," she told me when I informed her about the missing Léger. "Do you know how much money I make a year?"
"More than me, probably."
"Clever," she said. I could see her sneering. "I need that money," she continued. "We could've auctioned it and made a fortune. I was counting on it."
"So what do you want me to say?"
"You could start with you're sorry."
I let an angry silence spread between us to let her know that she’d reached the limits of my patience. She understood, and she spoke more gently. "Did they leave any clues?" she asked.
"None that I could find."
"So who could it be?"
"The only people who ever entered Dad's bedroom were me, you, Sarah and Mark. "
She suddenly shouted, "If you're making this up...if you've hidden it so you can sell it later, I'll kill you!"
"Florence, what the hell are you..."
She was screeching at the top of her lungs: "I swear I'll kill you, I'll cut out your heart, and I won't give it another thought."
That was the first time I thought that something might be seriously wrong with her.
The police came twice to my father's cottage to dust for fingerprints and interview me. Florence even insisted on hiring a private detective. We each chipped in seven hundred and fifty dollars. But the painting didn't turn up. Until three weeks ago.
Meanwhile, within months of painting disappearing, we all stopped talking to each other. At first, Florence suspected me, Sarah suspected Mark, and Mark suspected Florence. It was like a bad imitation of Shakespearean comedy. Then things got really wild; Florence convinced the others that the villain could only have been me. After all, I was the only one who'd been at my father's cottage all the time. So I had far more opportunity to take the painting and find a buyer. As for my motive, that was harder for her to concoct, since I’d never been known to care that much about any inheritance. But she managed to come up with one. According to Florence, I needed the money to pay secret debts. Her diabolical reasoning went as follows:
I'd been promiscuous during the 1970s and had therefore caught AIDS. I'd stolen the painting because I didn't want to admit that I had the disease and desperately needed to make hospital payments. Of course, I could have used my Barnard medical coverage, but I didn't want to confess my illness to university administrators for fear of being ostracized, even fired. This was 1984, and that sort of cramped reasoning made some sense back then. Anyway, Florence claimed that she'd actually searched through my garbage and found bills for thousands of dollars that had been stamped overdue by Roosevelt Hospital. Naturally, she said, I couldn't admit that I'd stolen the painting or had such hospital bills because to admit either would be to virtually confess that I was tainted with plague.
I found all this out from Sarah's eldest daughter, Rachel, the only person in the family with the courage to call me up and ask if I was really ill.
Thanks to Florence's creative storytelling, my three siblings have never talked to me again.
It has always been hard for me to believe that reasonably intelligent and sensitive adults could behave like this, especially if they really thought that I had AIDS. But, as I found out, such things happen all the time. Since the end of 1984, I've never even received so much as a Christmas card or birthday call from any of them. And until three weeks ago, I really did believe that they accepted Florence's story. I figured that they must have regarded it as an absolute miracle that I managed to live more than a few years.
During kind moments, I used to say to myself that when Florence started these rumors everybody was in a panic about the new plague striking America. And my father had just died. None of us was behaving rationally.
Occasionally, however, I speculated that Florence had stolen the painting and had accused me to cover herself. But mostly, I didn't care. Dad was dead. I had a tenured teaching job that kept me fulfilled, good health and close friends. At a time when people really were starting to die in the long, drawn-out viral war that was just then beginning, these were the important things. As for the painting, I hoped that it had been sold to a museum where people could appreciate the nobility of the peasant girl with the obsidian hair. If I gave in to anger at times, it was only because I thought that the loss of the painting had somehow ripped out the very last page of my father's life story.
Then, one June day in 2001, I flew off to Porto, Portugal to attend a series of lectures on French 20th-Century Figurative Painting at the Serralves Foundation, expecting not much more than seeing a few old friends. Martin Roland was there, the painter and professor of Art History at McGill University. The title of his talk was “Léger, the Female Nude and Solitude.” I didn't know what this meant exactly, but I liked the way it sounded. During his lecture, he showed slides to illustrate his theory that Léger's women were fundamentally more isolated than his men – that they inhabited what he called espaces fermées – closed spaces. Additionally, Roland suggested that such an attitude was fundamentally new; the Classic and Romantic attitude being that women were far more in touch with the world – connected to the cycles of birth and death – than men. One of the slides illustrating Roland's thesis was of my father's painting.
When I saw it, I gasped; it was as if a loved one had risen from the grave. So is she still here? I thought; I realized at that moment that I'd imagined for many years that the young woman in the painting had died at the same moment as my father. Strange what the mind comes up with.
More importantly, I also realized that the young woman in the painting looked like my mother. How I could have missed that is beyond me. Maybe it was the trauma of losing her. Or maybe I needed to be older to see the subtle correspondence in their attitude rather than their physical form. There was no denying, however, that they had the same serene but knowing look in their eyes, the same inner elegance. Was this a coincidence? Or had Léger met my mother that night when he came to have his molar filled? Maybe he, too, recognized the similarity and offered the painting in tribute.
When Martin’s lecture ended, I ran to him to ask about “The Woman with Stone Hair.”
"I got the slide from the Fondation Maeght," he replied. "I suppose the painting must be there, but I've never actually seen it in person."
From my hotel I called up the Fondation Maeght in Nice and spoke to a helpful young woman who told me that the painting in question was owned by a private collector in Princeton, New Jersey. She was a miracle worker and called me back later the same day with his phone number and name – Carlo Ricci.
When I spoke to Mr. Ricci from Portugal, he was friendly. Yes, he had the painting. It was hanging in his living room, over his couch. He remembered very well the circumstances under which he'd bought it. He voice was deep, his accent slightly British.
"At the time, I was collecting Léger, everything I could find,” he told me. “I was in love with his scope, his size. A dealer in Boston called me one day. Jensen...Richard Lloyd Jensen. Do you know him?"
"I'm afraid not."
"Well, he called me up one day, out of the blue, and he said he had a lovely portrait in the style of 'The Bather,' and that the people who owned it wanted to get rid of it quickly – that I could get it for a bargain price. "
"Did he say who it was who was selling it?"
"Not that I recall."
"You wouldn't have Mr. Jensen's number, by any chance?"
"I have his gallery number. If you'll wait just a moment...."
But Ricci couldn't turn up the number; he'd stopped buying paintings years before and had moved on to antique cars.
When I got home a few days later, I managed to find Mr. Jensen through a series of phone calls to gallery owners in the Boston area. A man named Levine told me that Jensen was now retired, but still occasionally dealt in paintings. "His house is a treasure trove," he said.
When I got Jensen on the phone, I said, "Let me tell you a crazy story," and I proceeded to tell him about Léger's toothache and the history of the painting.
"I remember it very well,” he said when I’d finished. “Personally, I didn't like it. But I knew Ricci, and I knew I could sell it."
"Do you remember who offered it to you?"
"I'm afraid not," he replied. "Fifteen years is a long time. But I still have my files. If you'll hold on..." I waited twenty minutes on the line. Twice he came back to tell me, "Don't hang up, I'm coming closer," then, the third time, he said, "Got it... Mark Kumin and Sarah Halper."
"Both? You're sure?"
"It's right here – they both signed the forms."
"And no one else?" I was thinking of my youngest sister Florence.
"Do you have the date of their contract with you?"
"June 17, 1987."
So they'd hidden away the painting for three years before putting it on the market.
"Do you mind telling me the price?" I asked.
"Oh, it was a bargain. Two hundred and seventy-five thousand. Minus my commission, of course."
After I hung up, I sat for a long time with my head buzzing. For maybe a hundred thousand dollars each, Mark and Sarah had stolen our father's painting; been willing to let lies about me go unchallenged; and never spoken with me again. It didn't make much sense. And Florence? Had she been involved behind the scenes? I suspected so. She was clever enough to have developed the plan and found a way around actually signing anything.
I couldn't sleep that night. The sheets were icy, the bed too small. I watched TV and thought about the past as if I were searching for clues to a murder. At nine the next morning, I called Mr. Ricci back and asked if I could see the painting. He explained that he was an old man, seventy-seven, and was no longer in the habit of receiving guests.
"I'll come whenever you want and I'll only stay a moment," I said. He simply sighed, so I added, "I'll pay you five hundred dollars just to stand in front of it for a minute. "
"Oh dear, that won't be necessary," he answered in an apologetic tone. "How about tomorrow, say early afternoon?"
His granddaughter got on the phone to give me directions to his house. That night, I fished out my father’s old medicines from the bottom of my linen closet and took a Valium in order to sleep. In the morning, I rented a car and drove to Princeton. I'd never been there before. Ricci lived in a wealthy neighborhood with towering oaks and perfect lawns about a mile west of the University. His house was English Tudor. When I rang the bell, a young woman answered. She introduced herself as the granddaughter I'd spoken to. She was tiny, with short brown hair. She wore jeans and a baggy woolen sweater. When I thanked her for giving me such good directions, she smiled warmly. "My grandfather is waiting for you with the painting,” she said.
I'm usually quite observant, but I have no idea even today what the foyer looked like or how exactly we got to the living room. I suddenly couldn't seem to get my breath, and I was worried that I was going to faint. All I remember is my feet pounding on a wooden floor for the longest time. Then, I saw Ricci seated in a wheel chair at the center of a large, brightly lit room, with all the walls painted white. He was bald and shrunken. A blue blanket was draped over his shoulders. He was holding my father's Léger in his skeletal hands. He smiled, and I remember his teeth were too large.
"Is this the painting, Professor Kumin?" he asked.
Objects must soak up memory and become aligned to certain events; looking at the Léger, I was overwhelmed with the feeling of being with my mother. It was as if we were about to play a game of gin rummy on her bed.
It was then that I understood why the painting meant so very much to my father, and why I'd discovered him once sleeping with it on his lap.
"Professor Kumin, would you like to take a closer look?" Ricci asked.
When he held it out to me, a hollow ache opened in my gut. I wanted to run my finger over her hair, but I was sure I’d burst into tears if I did.
"No, thank you," I whispered. "I think I should get going."
I turned and rushed past Ricci's granddaughter out of the living room. While running to my car, she called my name once, but I didn’t turn around. I cursed myself for having visited.
At home I went through old photographs of my parents. I kept looking at my mother as if there were a mark I needed to find – later, I figured I was looking for the first sign of her cancer. Then I had this overwhelming urge to see her grave. I felt like a character in some feverish detective novel. So I drove out to Roslyn and found the Mt. Sinai cemetery. It was past closing time. The sun was setting, and the gates were locked. But the brick wall around the cemetery was only four feet high. On hoisting myself over, I found scruffy lawns, pink azalea bushes, and neat rows of white marble headstones. I rushed around like a trespasser till I found my parents' graves. It took less time than I thought, maybe a half-hour. By then, dusk had veiled everything a solemn gray.
Isadore Kumin, January 12, 1903 – June 18,1984
Gnendl Rosencrantz Kumin, December 4,1906 – June 6,1954.
I gathered pebbles and put them on their headstones and kept putting them there till there was no space left for anything. Then I put some more stones in my coat pockets till they felt heavy enough for me to leave.
When I got home, I typed one-line notes to each of my three siblings: "I know now for sure that you stole Dad's painting."
It seemed important to let them know that I had found out about their treachery, but not to say anything more.
Florence was the only one to write me back. She sent a typed, single-spaced, seventeen page letter. She wrote about all the bad things my father and I had ever done to her. Eleven times she told me that I was a "queer without balls" and that if I’d had any courage I would have admitted years ago that I'd done everything I could to ruin her life. I had the feeling that she typed the letter with a hammer in each hand. A lot of incidents she referred to were totally invented: Don’t you remember how you and Dad abandoned me after Mom 's death. And then when you made fun of me for having an abortion when you knew I had no way of raising a baby… It was too much to ever forgive.
The madness shrieking from her pages frightened me, but I couldn’t stop reading. On page twelve, I learned more about why she, Mark and Sarah had stolen the Léger. She said that when she was in high school, they’d pleaded with our mother to leave our father and divorce him: Mom was so good and kind, but you weren't old enough to know. And Dad was evil, a secret man of silent plans whose very presence was toxic....
When their effort failed, and when our mother died, Florence realized that she couldn't bear to see our father keep “The Woman with Stone Hair”: We had to get the portrait of Mom away from him. He had her in life, but would never keep her in death. I had to make sure of that. And we knew you wouldn't agree, so we never told you.
When I was growing up, I always thought that as an adult I'd be friends with my siblings, particularly Florence. I also thought that as we age we must each inevitably grow more accepting of our parents and their failings.
Over the last three nights, I’ve gotten calls at two in the morning, but when I answer, no one is there. The last time it happened, I had enough of my wits to say, “Florence, if this is you, then please don’t call again.”
Sometimes, in my dreams, I see her trapped in one of Léger’s espaces fermées – closed spaces. She kicks and screams, but she can’t get out. Even so, I’m not taking any chances. I changed my phone number today and workmen are coming over in the morning to install a security system.
Causes Richard Zimler Supports
Save the Children, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)