Can anyone out there remember parts one through six? Read forward, read backwards.
7. In the year before she died, Rachel Zinc heard from the sister she didn’t know she had. It was the old story. It was always someone’s newest story. Their parents, having sent their daughters to safety in Canada, died in Auschwitz in the last week of the war. Afterwards, two American couples adopted the girls, Rachel and her older sister Miriam. Things were confused at the time, and so siblings were sometimes separated like that. Both girls were beloved by their parents. Rachel was happily married, with two sons and a daughter, when the sister she thought was long dead contacted her. Miriam suggested a DNA test to allay any doubts Rachel might have. Doubts were impossible once they met, by the big clock in Grand Central Station. They looked like sisters. They felt like sisters. Both women had aged in the same way, getting plump in the midsection. They both dyed their grey hair the same shade of brown. They both favored tailored pants and sensible shoes. They had both married men named Howard, Rachel’s a dentist and Miriam’s an urologist. They both loved the same silly romantic comedies. They were not twins, but a stranger could be forgiven for thinking so. A week later Rachel received the biopsy results. The last year of Rachel’s life was eerily happy. She felt at peace with her sister as she had never felt in her other life, and yet she was someone who had always thanked her lucky stars. The happiness prevailed, except in the middle of the night, when she woke up sweating from the same nightmare in which she was clawing her way up a crumbling stone wall, on the other wide of which was her childhood. The dream was so vivid that she couldn’t help but check her fingers upon waking, expecting to find fragments of the friable rock lodged beneath the nails.
Susanna Dewitt had gone so long between dentist visits that when she finally saw Dr. Howard Zinc about the sensitivity to cold in her upper right molar, he had lots of news to catch her up on. Susanna Dewitt had been his patient for thirty-eight years. She knew the names of Howard’s children, and he knew the history of all her crowns. First he complimented her on her agility with the prosthetic leg – she was a natural, he said. Then he started the narration with his late wife’s happy reunion with her newfound sister, segued straight to her sad death and his grieving, and then moved onto his subsequent reentry into the dating scene. Of course it wasn’t all as fast as it seemed. Howard Zinc wasn’t a heartless man by any means. But he couldn’t deny that he was pleasantly surprised to discover what a sought after commodity he was on said dating scene. And already he was no longer dating, in the ‘looking’ sense of the word, because he had met his soul mate, a widow with a brilliant sense of humor and a handicap of three.