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November 14, 2003 - Image 71

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-11-14

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a l a


Literary c _upplement

There still was danger, of course. Great danger. But the thought of the

danger didn't dampen Galina's ardor; on the contrary, it made her all the

more enthusiastic.



things and come to my place. We have to make it

knew her way around it. When Galina threw

before morning," she said breathlessly to Raya as

birthday parties, Raya, who always came early

soon as she entered her dark hall. Raya, still fully

to help, was rushing from the kitchen to the

dressed, but without her coat, -rushed up to

living room and back, helping Galina to set the

Galina and burst out sobbing. She mumbled

table and bring the dishes in. And when the

something rapidly while clenching Galina's

guests came, Raya met them in the hall and

shoulders. The words coming from her mouth

told them where to put their _coats and led

seemed to be drenched with snot. They were

them cheerfully into the living room; Now she

hard to make out. They were about the great risk

stood barefoot on the knitted doormat—she

for Galina and Tanya, and that Raya couldn't

had just taken off her boots— asking where to

accept this, that she and Leeza had better try to

put Leeza's and her coats. Galina gave them

sneak out of the town, walk to the woods and hide

slippers and led them to the back room. They

there, and then again about the sacrifice, the

great risk for Galina and that she couldn't accept

"This is

it. Galina felt Raya's sharp chin and sticky tears

on her shoulder. She had the urge to dry herself,

but she had to wait until Raya was through. She

been prepared. She glanced around the room

the end,"

still fully clothed, hunched in the corner of the

Raya said.

She felt her excitement fading.

Galina looked at Leeza's sharp shoulders

between her knees. These two lives were now

completely dependent on her; their very exis-

tence was in her hands. Galina desperately


sofa. Galina saw that her invitation had been

expected for a long time and already accepted.

adultlike. Nobody knew what to do next.

under a checkered dress, Raya's hands folded

and saw Raya's unpacked suitcase by the door,

her coat, dropped on the chair, and Leeza, also

who had been woken up and told everything,

sat in her bed, trying hard to look serious and

]mew that Raya's tears were sincere, but at the

same time she sensed that her little speech had

went there timidly and sat on the bed. Tanya,

wanted to back out, to say: "No, no, you can't

stay here. It's not for me. I am the wrong type

of person. I am not prepared." But it was too

going to

late to change anything.

'Later, Raya and Leeza stood silently in the

Copyright Lara Vapnyar. Excerpted by permis-

hall of Galina's apartment. Raya had been at

sion -ofthe author from There are Jews in My

Galina's place hundreds of times before and

House (Pantheon,' 2003).


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