There were daddy long-legs in the cellar with Bonifacia. they came out to laugh at her as she did her work and followed her parents’ footsteps upstairs. Mama and Papa were in the hall, creaking their way to the master bedroom. Mama was quick for a pregnant lady. Bonifacia recognized her mix of shuffling and hurrying, like she was running a race in slippers. Papa clomped behind, barking in Italian. Bonifacia understood more than they suspected. “Cold” and “crazy” from her father; “mean” and “money” from her mother.
Bonafacia had been ordered to clean the wine jugs with a pair of her father’s retired underwear, dipped into a tin bucket that contained warm water and a drop of bleach. The jugs stank of mould and booze. This was her fourth hour with that toxic mix. She’d told off Roberto, and this was her penance. She wrung the underwear over the last jug and watched soapy trails roll down the glass surface, cutting paths in the grime. She hated the task, but liked being isolated from the house’s hot core of anger. School, too, was a refuge. She was twelve years old and allowed to walk the two miles on her own, especially now that her sister, Lia, had to go to the high school, which was in the opposite direction. Each day at 3:30 p.m. she pushed open the school’s doors and considered turning right instead of left. But then, she’d imagine her mother rubbing her swollen belly and staring expectantly down Laurier Street between a crack in the living room curtains. Her worried face would be floating above the delivery signs—MILK EGGS BREAD—in the window. Bonifacia would turn left and climb the hill home.
Her parents were in different parts of the house now. Papa was still yelling; Mama was in the washroom. She was in the washroom a lot lately—her own version of refuge, like school, Bonifacia thought—but Papa couldn’t even give her peace on the toilet.
Bonifacia let a daddy long-legs come up her forearm to the elbow, then flicked it off. It landed in the pail of water, appendages up and kicking. She wondered what it might be thinking. She wondered if it knew it was dying. If I were a spider, I would scream, she thought.
“Oh, go to bed!” her mother said, above.
Mama moved to the living room, Papa to bed. The mattress squeaked under him. This signalled a detente, but Bonifacia knew that nothing was resolved. It would all pick up at a later provocation. Mama always snarled that command in English, dismissively, “oh, go to bed!”, like it was a catchphrase on I Love Lucy. Something the audience was waiting to hear.
The audience had grown small. Three of Bonifacia’s sisters had married and moved out, leaving only her, Lia and Roberto as witnesses. And Roberto was useless. His arrival had sparked the scandal. No one had told Bonifacia the details, but, like everyone at their church, she’d worked out the story based on the clues available. Roberto was a relic from Papa’s life in Italy, one of the sons he’d left there when he came to Canada. He’d had them with his first wife, his real wife—the one God would recognize. Roberto was his real son; Bonifacia and her four sisters were something else. She often turned over the possibilities in her head—orphans, sins, bastards, mistakes, mongrels, counterfeits—but none seemed right. The closest she came was “stains.” That’s how it seemed at church, when the heads turned towards the girls. They were obviously, but invisibly, marked.
“All clean,” Bonifacia announced when she got to the top of the cellar stairs with the bucket.
“Keep your voice down,” Mama said from behind the washroom door. “Papa’s in bed.”
“It’s four in the afternoon,” Bonifacia said.
“So it is.”
The door swung open and there she was, looking exhausted. She was sallow, but carried herself with determination. Her hair was going grey in streaks. Following her into the kitchen, Bonifacia saw that her mother had combed her hair back to conceal a bald patch that only revealed itself as they passed under the overhead light. Mama lifted a drumstick from a tub of buttermilk.
“Look. This chicken is no good. It’s not even taking the milk.” She poked a drumstick in her daughter’s direction. Bonifacia looked at it, plump from its nightlong bath.
“Looks milky to me,” she said.
“What do you know?” Mama said. “Don’t you empty that filthy water in my sink. Take it out back to the garden.”
Bonifacia tipped the bucket into the sink. The grey water circulated around the drain. The daddy longlegs, now certifiably dead, plopped out at the end.
“You girls. You girls will be the death of me.”
“An answer to everything. You always have something to say.”
“It’s better than having nothing to say.” “
So what do I do with this chicken, then? Huh, loudmouth?”
“Fry it up?”
“An answer to everything.”
Bonifacia helped with the batter: flour, egg yolks, salt. It smelled like cake until they added a halfbottle of beer, making it yeasty, fizzing up to a froth. Fried chicken was the only reason that the family bought beer. Bonifacia hadn’t even known where to buy it when it appeared on the grocery list. Now, the man at Brewer’s Retail always laughed at her—“The little WOP girl that can only handle one bottle of Labatt’s!”—before ringing it up.
In an iron skillet, Mama spun a white square of lard. These are the things I’ll miss when I run away, Bonifacia thought. She kept a tally of them in her mind. The smells, for example. The batter and the beer, the garlic on her fingers, the basil in the garden, her brother-in-laws’ cigarettes, the wine’s putrid sharpness, the musty basement, and the porcine wafts from the pan.
There was no list of the things she won’t miss. If there were, it would itemize everything else. Bonifacia was indifferent to nothing. She was already prepared to hate or love the baby. Mama’s hand on Mama’s stomach: it was her nervous tick whenever she was pregnant, as if ensuring the child was still there. Bonifacia and her sisters had seen it before. This was Mama’s third pregnancy since Bonifacia was born, but none of those babies—all boys—came to anything but a surge of rage and a small coffin. Bonifacia pictured her brothers in limbo, ineligible for heaven, curled-up balls of wrinkled skin, one indistinguishable from the next, floating in a white sky.
“Papa won’t want chicken,” Bonifacia said. Fried chicken was the only Canadian dish Mama tolerated. The girls loved it; Papa rejected it.
“He’s getting penne,” Mama said. “Get me some of the sauce from the freezer. The one from last Sunday.”
“He won’t want frozen sauce either.”
“He can’t tell the difference.”
“He thinks he can.”
But he could. Bonifacia knew he’d cause a scene at the table, when the food was slid in front of him. The frozen sauce, the dried noodles. She poked a finger in the buttermilk, predicting the argument to come.
“Stop playing with the food,” Mama said. “That’s our dinner.”
“But you were playing with it.”
“Again with something to say. This is what gets you into fixes,” Mama said, grabbing the drumsticks away. “Talking back.”
Talking back was why she had to clean wine jugs. She’d told Roberto that she could never marry a man like him. Papa had yelled that she should treat him like a brother. “‘Stranger’ is closer to the mark!” she’d replied. This got her five licks and a Saturday in the cellar. She’d called him so much worse in the past—ape, she recalls, and gorilla—and it had come to nothing. Maybe her parents agreed with her, or maybe it was the reference to the scandal that they hated. She wasn’t sure. There was some core detail she didn’t know.
“What do you think of the name Bonnie?”
“For the baby?”
“No, for me. A short form, Mama, like a nickname.”
“It sounds mangiacake.” This was her term for all things non-Italian, all things Canadian, Protestant, tasteless, boring or stiff. “You have a beautiful name.”
“It was your favourite? That’s why you gave it to your fifth daughter?”
“It suits you. It means good omen.”
“I know what it means.”
“And that’s what I had in my head, when I first saw you. You were my lucky charm.” Bonifacia looked at her mother’s hand on her bulging belly, remembering her dead brothers. Fat lot that did.
“Bonnie,” Bonifacia said, exploring it. “Like Connie. Connie Francis.” “Is she a mangiacake?”
“But she was born over here. Kind of like me. You know her name was Concetta when she was my age.”
“I’d never name a child something so ridiculous.” She put her hand on her belly, spun a chicken leg in the batter to keep its layer thick, then dropped it in the lard. It sizzled and popped, smelling of doughnuts.
“Even if it is Italian.”
In the attic, the sisters dressed for bed. They each had two nightgowns hidden under their pillows, flannel for winter, cotton for summer.
“Should we go flannel already?” Lia said.
“It was cold today, but isn’t it too early?” Bonifacia said. “It’s not even November.”
“Cold is cold.”
Bonifacia scanned the small window for an answer. Autumn had ceased being colourful or interesting. The weather was grey now, rainy and nippy. The churned garden stretched away, ending where the grape vines grew around a fence. The grapes were wrinkling and needed to be picked before they froze. Probably by her; a punishment for whatever she does next.
“You look like a frump in the flannel, though,” Lia said.
“Who do I have to impress up here? Mama? You?”
They pulled the thick garments over their heads, keeping their arms cloaked inside so they could remove their bras and underwear, and pull them from under the hems. Bonifacia had learned this ritual from her older sisters. Once, there had been four of them in the attic. Isabella had slept in the room off the kitchen, a space that always belonged to the house’s eldest sister. Filomena inherited it when Isabella married; Teresa inherited it when Filomena married. Now, it was Roberto’s, when by all rights it should be Lia’s. And Bonifacia, she should have the attic to herself.
Despite the parade of sisters, the attic was devoid of any femininity. The sloped walls were bare, just parallel planks of wood painted the same hospital teal as the kitchen and the living room. There was an electric radiator, a wooden hamper and an armoire packed with dresses, skirts and a mound of shoes.
There were two beds. One was tucked in a corner, and had a divot in the centre that drove people together if they dared to share it. Lia and Bonifacia called it The Canoe. Mama liked the other bed, by the window, farthest from the stairs. Bonifacia and Lia preferred it as well. It was newer, firmer and it smelled less musty. The Good Bed was most appealing on hot days because it sat in the draft that blew in from the adjacent storage space, beyond an old shower curtain made of crinkled white plastic that swayed in the movement of the air. It looked creepy in moonlight. If Bonifacia woke up in the dark, dreamy and unfocused, she thought the curtain was the ghost of one of her brothers pointing her to a world beyond—a purgatory without souls, that had once terrified her, but had lately started seeming attractive. It was somewhere else.
“I hate this green,” Bonifacia said.
“I thought you liked it.”
“I don’t anymore.”
“You’re always changing your mind.”
“It looks radioactive.” Bonifacia pushed her arms through the sleeves, placed a hand on the wall.
“We’re all going to grow extra heads.”
“We’ll be freaks.”
“I want The Canoe tonight.”
“You had it last night.”
“I know, but I want it again.”
“She’s not that awful, Lia.”
“Then you do it.” Lia threw her round body onto The Canoe, back first.
They snuggled into their beds, into the bleach smell of the sheets.
“Ten or sleep?” Bonifacia said.
It was a game they played. They let each other be alone with their thoughts for ten minutes before they could speak again, unless one of them fell asleep. When there were four of them, it was harder to maintain. “Ten or sleep” was more of a joke or a dare. Sooner or later, one of them would laugh or toot or ram an elbow into her bedmate. That was before Roberto, before the scandal. Now, they allowed their thoughts to unspool into the dark, unconcerned with each other, parents, chores, school, daddy long-legs, the oncoming baby. Thoughts built on thoughts, logic-free and all their own.
“What do you think of Bonnie? You know, for my name?”
“It hasn’t been ten minutes yet.”
“How do you know?” Bonifacia said.
“I can count, Bonbon.”
“I hate that. ‘Bonbon.’”
“I know. Why do you think I call you that all the time?”
“I like Bonnie.”
“You’re Bonbon forever.”
“Only to you.”
“Mama will never call you anything but Bonifacia.”
“Well, she doesn’t have to.”
“Forget about Papa, too.”
“Who cares about him?”
“Yeah,” Lia said. “It’ll be a bad one tonight.”
“The second bottle of wine.”
“I know,” Bonifacia said.
As predicated, Papa hadn’t approved of the fried chicken. He’d complained that his penne was made from frozen sauce, claimed he could tell. Mama had disagreed. His tumbler was never empty. A second carafe of wine had to be poured, reluctantly, by Mama, who knew that once it was served, it would be swallowed. Bonifacia and Lia locked eyes from across the table. Mama looked deep into her chicken. Roberto tried to keep them talking, but found he was only talking to himself.
“Why did she even make him that frozen sauce?”
“To get back at him, dumb-dumb. For the fight,” Lia said. “Grow up, Bonbon. Sometimes it’s like you don’t understand anything.”
They stopped chatting. Dread filled the silence, along with the ticking seconds of their alarm clock. Bonifacia had trained herself to detect the squeak of the doorknob at the bottom of the stairs. Then, the bolt’s click. Finally, the jingle of the lock. “Lock” is what they called it, but it was more rudimentary than that—a simple loop of metal screwed into the door and a corresponding hook on the doorframe. Bonifacia had installed it herself.
Mama’s progress up the stairs was slower than usual. She took them one at a time, sliding a slippered foot against each step, making a sandpaper sound. Bonifacia scooched her body towards the wall. The Good Bed absorbed Mama’s weight without complaint, but Bonifacia had to grip the frame to keep from tumbling towards her. They lay like that for while, waiting, Mama on her back, radiating heat. The flannel was a mistake, Bonifacia thought, staying on her side, sweating, with her knees close to her chest. Pretend to be asleep. She didn’t understand why she had to, but knew it was required.
There was faint mumbling downstairs, in Italian, between Papa and Roberto. The men laughed. This is what bothers her the most, Bonifacia thought. That they’re friends.
More footsteps. First Roberto’s, to the room off the kitchen, then Papa’s. Bonifacia could follow his movements on the map in her head. He walked first to the kitchen, then to the master bedroom. He paced there, and then marched inevitably back to the attic stairs.
He knocked five times on the door, not with his knuckles, but like a hammer—blunt and loud, the grace notes of each strike jingling from the metal hook in its loop.
“Fiona,” he mumbled. “Fiona, bella. Come to bed.”
Mama did not move. “Fiona, it’s not right.” He was speaking in Italian.
Mama curled towards Bonifacia, her hand finding her daughter’s shoulder under the blanket.
“You’re scaring them!” he yelled.
Mama came closer now, the curve of her stomach in Bonifacia’s back.
“What will they think a wife does? Huh?” He switched to accented English. “Girls! A wife, she sleeps with her husband!” Mama linked her arm with Bonifacia’s. She didn’t cry the way she did last month, when the scandal was still fresh. Now she merely shot hot bursts of air from her nose onto her daughter’s head. More banging.
“I will tell them! Every night, I’ll tell them!” Bonifacia could feel the baby now, as if he was being kept awake by the commotion.
“The baby is kicking,” Bonifacia whispered.
“He’s only getting comfortable. Babies don’t kick. It’s just a thing people say.”
“If I were a baby, I would kick.”
Papa yelled, “Hell! Hell is where you’ll go!”
“Oh go to bed!” Mama shouted. Her mouth was so close to Bonifacia’s ear that her famous catchphrase felt like it was tearing into her.
“You go to bed!” Papa said. “Our bed!”
He knocked again, but his heart wasn’t in it. They all knew he’d given up. When his footsteps diminished from the staircase to the hall, Mama said, “We’ll sleep now.”
“The baby is hopping mad,” Bonifacia said.
“Don’t be stupid,” Mama said.
Car doors slammed, waking the girls. Bonifacia was in bed alone. Mama’s side was cold. Lia was already sitting up in The Canoe with messy hair and creases on her cheeks from the pillow. Muted light came in through the window and wind whistled at the panes. The old shower curtain swung deeper into the room than usual. Bonifacia looked at the top of the dresser to check the time, but their alarm clock, the one with the ticking second hand, was missing.
“Again,” Lia said.
Bonifacia shrugged and said, “Don’t dress for mass.”
Downstairs, Roberto smoked, creating an acrid haze in the kitchen. There were dishes unwashed in the sink and the espresso maker was on the stovetop, surrounded by scalded coffee splatters.
“Where are they?” Bonifacia said.
“Left,” Roberto said.
“Me, I stayed for you.”
“Oh, Bob,” Bonifacia said. “We don’t need you to stay. We’re fine.”
“I want to stay. I stay.”
“Tell us where they went. Is Mama okay?” He looked at Bonifacia, then Lia, confused.
“Just say it in Italian,” Lia said.
She did. Roberto looked relieved.
“She will be fine. You, don’t worry. Don’t think about it.” He put out his cigarette and immediately lit another. “It’s not for you to worry about. Your mother wants you to stay here.”
“You’re a liar,” Bonifacia said.
“Bonbon, don’t. Don’t go on one of your attacks.”
“But he’s lying!” Bonifacia said.
“He’s doing his best.”
“I don’t even know why he’s here in the first place.”
The girls were rushing through their sentences in English to keep him from understanding. The alarm clock was on the table next to Roberto’s ashtray. They must have been timing the contractions.
“But they want us to stay here. Let’s at least call Isabella or Filomena. They have cars.”
“I’ll bet they’re all together. We’re the only ones who aren’t with them.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Yes I do. Look at him! He’s baffled!”
“Give him a break,” Lia said. Roberto was blushing from the neck up. His single eyebrow was crinkled in the centre, trying to assess the situation. He pulled on his cigarette in short intervals, which made the red-hot tip intensify and dim, like he was sending out Morse code. “It’s his first.”
Bonifacia took their coats from the hooks by the back door and began bundling up. Lia put her coat on, but hesitated before approaching her shoes.
“No, please,” Roberto said in pleading Italian, coming at Bonifacia as if to hug her.
“Don’t try that. Don’t do that.” She slapped his hand.
“I can help. Let me help,” he said. “You don’t want to see all that.”
“You don’t know what I want,” Bonifacia said. “You don’t know anything.”
“He knows that Mama and Papa don’t want us there,” Lia said.
“I’m going. Are you coming?” Lia slipped her shoes on.
“No,” Roberto said. He abandoned his cigarette in the ashtray, and stood in front of the back door with his arms crossed over his white t-shirt. Bonifacia could detect sweat soaking in his arm pits. “Don’t go see it. It’s not for little girls.”
“Who are you, anyway?” Bonifacia said. She was getting hot wearing her coat indoors. Looking at him there, determined to help in all the wrong ways, he no longer seemed like the malignant surprise that had upended their family and had put the stains on their skin. He was a clueless stranger, trying to tell her what to do. She could see Papa in his face, in the confused forehead. The wiry hairs poking from the neck of his shirt reminded her of the appendages of the daddy long-legs. She was small, but knew she could shoot herself at him, like a bullet, and go straight through to the garden. “We don’t know you. You’re just in the way!”
“It’s not his fault. We’ll go through the front,” Lia said. She took her sister’s hand and tugged her along the hallway. Going past the table, Bonifacia took the cigarette from the ashtray. She needed to wound him in some way, however small, and she’d seen Lucy do this to Ricky once, in their apartment in New York City, after winning an argument or getting something she wanted, had begged after, cried over, or blackmailed for. It’s the sort of thing a grownup woman might do to punctuate a triumph. When they got outside, she puffed on it and coughed, declared it revolting. Bonifacia dropped the cigarette on the ground and stamped on it, twisting her heel until it was nothing but brown pulp on the sidewalk.
They found the rest of their family at the end of a long sterile hallway. They’d been at St. Joe’s before. Usually, the four-bed room was full of women, but today Mama was the only patient. The other beds were dark, made with sheets pulled snug and tucked tight. The walls were painted the colour of every room in the Laurier Street house, as if this was a continuation of their home, a room that was always there, but hidden—unlocked only for one sad purpose.
The window afforded a view of the parking lot behind the silhouettes of Filomena and Teresa embracing. Isabella sat on an empty bed playing with the gold cross at her throat. Papa sat in a chair, immobile as a statue. He didn’t even blink. His eyes bored into the middle distance. Mama was under covers, skinny now, and asleep with her mouth open.
Swept in here on the wind of her defiance, Bonifacia now found herself without nerve. She wanted to rush in and rewind whatever had taken place—the details were irrelevant; the outcome was clear—but she didn’t know how to do it.
“You girls can come in,” Isabella said. Lia rushed in and put her arms around the waist of their eldest sister, who kissed her hair.
Bonifacia took two steps into the room. Papa’s head snapped towards her. He sniffled, shot a flat hand out in his brusque way, waved for her to approach. His raw, wet eyes were alert now. There was a tremble in the skin near his mouth. It was chilling to see him so vulnerable. She went to him and hugged him around the neck. He placed his hands on her back, squeezed. She could feel his calluses through her coat.
“Go show Mama,” he said. “Show Mama you’re here.”
She left his embrace and went to her mother, took her hand. It was bony, dry, unresponsive. “I’m here,” Bonafacia said. She saw that her mother was older, with skin loose at her neck and papery on her forehead. Her hair was pulled back, and it was clear that it was receding. Her pulse was sluggish in Bonafacia’s fingers, her breathing was shallow.
“Can I see the baby?” Bonifacia said.
“You girls shouldn’t see him, no,” Isabella said.
“I saw the others.”
“Just mind me.”
“This one isn’t the same,” Filomena said.
“This one had complications,” Teresa said.
“He doesn’t look like a normal baby,” Isabella said. She explained that the boy had been born premature— “teeny tiny”—and was dead before he even breathed. He had sores on his body.
“Were the rest of us born with sores?” Bonifacia said. She ran her hand down her arm, following with her eyes, but saw no remnants.
“No, Bonbon,” Isabella said.
“Not even the other boys?”
“Not even them. It was only this time. And the marks told the doctors something sad.” She cast an eye to the pair of sisters sitting on the window sill—some transmission of adult information. Teresa nodded. Isabella sighed to the ceiling. “I guess you’ll know soon enough. The marks mean Mama is sick. She has diabetes.”
“It’s a disease,” Filomena said.
“Something awful in her blood,” Teresa said.
“In a way, we’re fortunate,” Isabella said. “Mama probably wouldn’t have been able to tell all on her own for a while.”
“Heh?” Papa said.“Fortunado?”
“In a way, Papa. Now the doctors can treat it.”
“Why do you say these things?” he said, standing now, hunched over, weak. “The baby is dead!” He continued on in a blistering stream of Italian of which Bonifacia only understood defunto, ragazzo, ingrate, mammina and caro. Dead, boy, ungrateful, mommy, dear. He was pink-faced, spitting and sweating, slapping at the air.
“Don’t you yell at her,” Bonifacia said.
He pointed at Mama. “You speak back to me and your mother lies here sick!” he said, in Italian.
“She’s alive, isn’t she?”
“She’ll outlive the stars, this one!”
“I hope she does!”
“And the boys all die!”
“What do you care about boys? Where are your boys, Papa?”
He squeezed her face at either side of her lips, his calluses now scraping her. She could feel the lining of her mouth rub against her teeth.
“Oh, go to bed!” Bonifacia had to slur it, force it out between her teeth, because he was holding so tightly.
Lia chuckled at this, having heard it from their mother so often. Bonifacia cracked a smile too, in spite of herself.
“You’re your mother’s daughter,” Papa said. She folded her arms, and felt victory in the gust of air that trailed him as he moved towards the door. He turned his anger to the hallway, bellowing that he wanted to see his son. The sisters stared at him there, framed by the door, as he continued his gesticulations. To Bonifacia, all this animated rage made him seem reduced, pitiable.
Papa re-entered after the nurse. It was Mrs Garlito, prim and weary, a white cap pinned in her hair. She pushed a rolling crib, but also carried into the room a sense of judgement—from all the horrors she’d seen, from all the blame she’d laid—bound up behind her starched white scrim. They knew her from church; she was one of the parishioners who had stopped speaking to their family after the scandal.
“Ladies,” she said. “This business of seeing the child. I don’t recommend it.”
“We know,” Bonifacia said.
“I like to be professional. I like to be certain.” Mrs Garlito eyed Lia and Bonifacia, then served a questioning look to Isabella. Bonifacia felt a Papa-like rage build in her.
“We’re very certain,” Bonifacia said.
Mrs Garlito pulled the sheet away. The boy had an outsized head. Threads of black hair descended freakishly almost to his eyes. His skin was purple, as though every inch of him was bruised. His legs and arms were pudgy, and his eyes, nose and lips were almost entirely engulfed in bloat. The marks were boils, bright red and ridged with crust.
Lia let out a trembling sound, the beginning of a crying fit that would last days. She buried her face back in Isabella’s stomach.
Bonifacia forced a stoniness. She knew the child was dead, but still expected him to wriggle, to cry from his painful sores. Papa must have thought so, too. He scooped up his son—his fake son. The child was tiny, but Papa cradled him anyhow, in the crux of his elbow. Bonifacia could see he was an expert at it, he’d done it so many times before. Knowing only one thing to do with a newborn, Papa rocked the tiny dead boy back and forth, back and forth.
“What’s his name?”
“Mama and Papa didn’t give him a name, Bonbon,” Isabella said.
“Babies should have names,” Bonifacia said. “Can I give him a name?”
“No, Bonifacia. That wouldn’t be right.”
Bonnie gave the child a name anyway, silently and privately. Bonifacia. She beamed the gift to him with a loving stare. She lifted her eyes to Mrs Garlito, who was wincing back at her. Bonnie registered embarrassment and smugness on the nurse’s face. This woman knew everything about their family—the rumours, the curse, the sin, the dead boys—and she was disgusted with them all.
Bonnie checked her arms again. There were no boils, just the blank, tan skin of always. Maybe, for Bonnie, for all of them that were alive, the marks were imperceptible, but still there. Her and her sisters were all marked in the same way. Her parents, too. The chronic condition of being themselves. The stains were invisible, but everyone could see them. Maybe her father was right. Maybe the survivors were unfortunate. Maybe the babies were lucky after all.
Photo by Scott from Flickr