Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Dedication

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Acknowledgments

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Table of Contents

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Chapter 1 - Unction

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pp. 1-12

They gathered each morning at seven o’clock in the bookbinding machine shop, in the back where the parts were stored in long, narrow, metal bins and stacked on metal shelving to the ceiling. Fans spun the dusty heat. They drank cups of dark coffee. They moved, their teen-aged bodies dull and inarticulate, to the plywood counter where thick ...

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Chapter 2 - She Fell to Her Knees

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pp. 13-27

Nell met him the first time she went to the house. He came across the backyard with his drink. His clothes were rumpled, as if he’d been lying down in them—a dress shirt, a pair of gray trousers. It was a weekday afternoon. They stood by the seawall and he asked her what she was doing there. The ice in his drink slid around. His eyebrows came together, laughing...

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Chapter 3 - Breach

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pp. 28-39

On our third day they find the boy’s white dinghy upturned, scuttling back and forth in the breakers on the sandbar. It is mid-morning. You are still sleeping. The beach is dotted with children excavating sand with their toes, gathering at the water’s lapping edge to point and wonder. No one knows what the thing is until a man in a cottage ...

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Chapter 4 - Beautiful

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pp. 40-52

She was just Lorna when she applied for the job. She wore bangs and cutoff jean shorts and flip- flops. She went with her new friend, Yolie, who was already a bartender there, her exposed skin sticking to the seat of Yolie’s car in the Florida heat. Yolie told Lorna he would like her, not to worry, and pulled her through the door into the darkness ...

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Chapter 5 - Apparitions

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pp. 53-63

I saw Auntie Sister in my grandmother’s barn when I was five. She sat in her black habit on a bale of hay in a shaft of sunlight. I waited nearby for her to notice me. Once, she had come to my house and sat on our front steps, her eyes full of laughter. Pieces of her dark hair snuck out of her wimple. She gave me a white leather- covered missal ...

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Chapter 6 - Confessions

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pp. 64-74

She chose the motels. The first time, they met at the one that sells tropicals in back. There was the handwritten sign up front—A Plethora of Plants—and old, fifties- looking neon flashing Sunny South Motel. Just one strip of rooms with doors the color of a nail polish she once liked back when she wore sundresses with little...

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Chapter 7 - The Ropewalk

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pp. 75-88

I never named my daughter. She lives with her father on the coast of another state where it snows, and the snow melts as it lands on the salt marsh, on the brackish still water of North Cove, on the gambrel roof of the house we bought together. When she was born I handed her over, a small bundle weighted with sleep. I remember only a red, ...

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Chapter 8 - Pins and Needles

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pp. 89-104

It began in snow. Annie met him outside of Wegman’s. He pulled off his knit hat and spun around when he saw her. His friends kept walking toward their car, making groaning sounds, like they were used to this. The snow made lacy patterns on his peacoat’s shoulders. She didn’t like the way he wet his lips before he talked, as if he worked ...

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Chapter 9 - On the Lake

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pp. 105-118

It was spring when his grandmother died, the funeral nearly an hour’s drive in the light rain, with trees budding bright against their wet Hartford, and Paul insisting we listen to Clapton, and his sister telling childhood stories of their father, who died five years before in a murder- suicide involving his second wife. I wore a gray wool skirt ...

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Chapter 10 - Destiny

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pp. 119-128

Marianne is named after a song by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I named her myself—her father doesn’t even know we’re alive. He’s probably still driving his pearl- white Chevelle down some turnpike every night, plugging in eight- track tapes of the Raspberries, who sing out the open car windows, “Please go all the way,” to any teenage girls ...

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Chapter 11 - Mouth of Friend and Stranger

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pp. 129-136

I saw him first. He was safe in his group of friends, his friends cushioning us from each other. I didn’t know him. I had my copy of Lowell, just purchased from the used bookstore, and I sat alone. We were at the Cuban restaurant, outdoors at the plastic patio tables lit by tiki torchlight. Th e mambo band played. Or we were in the dim space on ...

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Chapter 12 - The Returning

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pp. 137-147

The night Fay’s grandmother died a balmy wind shook the leaves on the mango trees in the backyard. Everyone gathered at the house, which the Realtor, later, advertised for sale as a “dollhouse.” It was Fay and her father and her aunt and uncle. Fay’s mother stayed at home. “Call me when it’s over,” she told Fay from her bedroom. Fay could ...

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Chapter 13 - Dead Boyfriends

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pp. 148-160

In the lot behind Junior’s garage, buried in tall summer grass, are the hulls of cars in which Nan once had sex. Above her the elms wave and whine with insects. She treads the grass down in her sandals. Her hair sticks to her forehead, the back of her neck. Junior saunters along ahead of her with his same slanting shoulders and slouch, his black ...

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Chapter 14 - Galatea

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pp. 161-176

I married William in upstate New York before he turned out to be the Mary Bell. I was named after my father’s cousin, a wayward nun, who as a novice with the Benedictine Sisters of Regina Laudis took ff with three other sisters for a mission in California and was never heard from again. I often imagined them driving in a sky- blue sedan with ...

Back Cover

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