I ’ve curled my body into a ball to shield it from the kicks of a band of Irish boys. The air, dense with humidity, dark with clouds, is suddenly filled with screams of terror — a terror substantial enough to be weighed and measured. It isn’t the shouts of “Dirty kike,” the boys’ grunts, nor my own animal whimpers that frighten me most. It’s those screams, Rose’s screams. Bright as the light that splinters in glittering shards behind my eyelids as I escape into unconsciousness.
The woman’s name is Lena. She makes an appointment with me — I’m a therapist — to discuss “personal matters.” Her accent on the phone is as familiar as an old armchair and revives melancholy memories of New York City’s Second Avenue, Ratner’s Deli, Coney Island. I feel as if I know this woman: probably in her seventies, Eastern European, and, because the only Eastern Europeans I knew were the survivors who flooded the city after the war, probably a Holocaust survivor.