Today's Reading

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 FIVE HOURS LATER

ELEANOR

The light in the small room is cold, the stark, white glare of an eco-friendly bulb. I'm sure it's meant to be reassuringly normal, just like the anonymous chair I'm sitting on, and the smooth, light- wood table in front of me.

When I look at my hands I can still see the blood, even though I scrubbed them red and raw with the antiseptic soap in the bare white bathroom.

The door opens and I give a start. The man who steps into the room is wearing a police uniform. He has short blond hair and is carrying a portable recording device in his hand.

He puts the recording device down on the table between us. It's small, gray, and efficient, but it clinks heavily against the wood.

"Is it all right if I record our conversation, Victoria?" he asks.

Victoria, as if we knew each other.

Everything is spinning. I'm so tired, so cold. I close my eyes just to make it stop.

"Victoria?" he repeats, in that same artificially soft goddamn voice. "Eleanor," I say as I open my eyes, my tongue dry and rough. "My name's

Victoria Eleanor, but nobody calls me Victoria. Only Vivianne." 

"OK," he says. "Can I tape our conversation, Eleanor?"

I nod.

"Can you tell me what happened when you arrived at your grandma's?" he asks.

"Please, don't call her Grandma. She hates it. Her name's—her name was Vivianne."

"OK," he says amenably. "Can you tell me what happened when you arrived at Vivianne's apartment?"

He has bright blue eyes, so even in color that they look unreal. Easy to remember. A good marker.

Does he know? I find myself wondering. Has anyone said the word' prosopagnosia to him yet? Explained to him what it means?

I'm good at explaining it. Which isn't surprising, given how often I have to.

Prosopagnosia, face blindness. It means my brain doesn't process human faces the same way others do. I can't recognize faces, so have to memorize distinguishing features instead.

'Nope, it's not so handy for parties. Yeah, it's a good excuse, only it's not an excuse. It's my life. I can't recognize anybody, not even myself in the mirror.'

"I don't know what happened," I say.

He says nothing, forces me to fill the silence.

"I was going to her place for dinner. We have dinner together every Sunday; that's our agreement. She won't drop by our place or show up at my office or call me twenty-eight times in a row until I pick up, but in return I have to eat dinner with her every Sunday. And I always do. So I was just on my way there when..."

I stare at him. The words fail me.

"It doesn't have to be perfect," he says. "Just tell me what you remember." So that's what I do.

FIVE HOURS AND FIVE MINUTES EARLIER

ELEANOR

My footsteps echoed in the stairwell. I would always hang back on those last few steps up to Vivianne's apartment, the place that had been my "home" for sixteen years. If it were up to me I would never go back.

The Sunday dinners were a compromise. Two hours, once a week, when Vivianne got to mutter and pontificate to her heart's content, foist light sherry onto me in small, delicate glasses, and pick me apart with a fine-tooth comb. It was my therapist Carina's idea, and the arrangement had worked well for almost four years. It was a compromise.

I didn't want to cut all ties with Vivianne. She was my grandmother in theory, my mother in practice. Impossible to live with, impossible to live without.

Still, her phone calls that oppressively hot September week had breached our agreement. She wasn't supposed to call me unless it was an emergency. I never picked up, but that didn't stop her from leaving voicemail after voicemail: four on Tuesday, six on Thursday. One more late Friday night:

"I can hear them in the walls: they're whispering to me." That last one had made my skin crawl.


...

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Today's Reading

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 FIVE HOURS LATER

ELEANOR

The light in the small room is cold, the stark, white glare of an eco-friendly bulb. I'm sure it's meant to be reassuringly normal, just like the anonymous chair I'm sitting on, and the smooth, light- wood table in front of me.

When I look at my hands I can still see the blood, even though I scrubbed them red and raw with the antiseptic soap in the bare white bathroom.

The door opens and I give a start. The man who steps into the room is wearing a police uniform. He has short blond hair and is carrying a portable recording device in his hand.

He puts the recording device down on the table between us. It's small, gray, and efficient, but it clinks heavily against the wood.

"Is it all right if I record our conversation, Victoria?" he asks.

Victoria, as if we knew each other.

Everything is spinning. I'm so tired, so cold. I close my eyes just to make it stop.

"Victoria?" he repeats, in that same artificially soft goddamn voice. "Eleanor," I say as I open my eyes, my tongue dry and rough. "My name's

Victoria Eleanor, but nobody calls me Victoria. Only Vivianne." 

"OK," he says. "Can I tape our conversation, Eleanor?"

I nod.

"Can you tell me what happened when you arrived at your grandma's?" he asks.

"Please, don't call her Grandma. She hates it. Her name's—her name was Vivianne."

"OK," he says amenably. "Can you tell me what happened when you arrived at Vivianne's apartment?"

He has bright blue eyes, so even in color that they look unreal. Easy to remember. A good marker.

Does he know? I find myself wondering. Has anyone said the word' prosopagnosia to him yet? Explained to him what it means?

I'm good at explaining it. Which isn't surprising, given how often I have to.

Prosopagnosia, face blindness. It means my brain doesn't process human faces the same way others do. I can't recognize faces, so have to memorize distinguishing features instead.

'Nope, it's not so handy for parties. Yeah, it's a good excuse, only it's not an excuse. It's my life. I can't recognize anybody, not even myself in the mirror.'

"I don't know what happened," I say.

He says nothing, forces me to fill the silence.

"I was going to her place for dinner. We have dinner together every Sunday; that's our agreement. She won't drop by our place or show up at my office or call me twenty-eight times in a row until I pick up, but in return I have to eat dinner with her every Sunday. And I always do. So I was just on my way there when..."

I stare at him. The words fail me.

"It doesn't have to be perfect," he says. "Just tell me what you remember." So that's what I do.

FIVE HOURS AND FIVE MINUTES EARLIER

ELEANOR

My footsteps echoed in the stairwell. I would always hang back on those last few steps up to Vivianne's apartment, the place that had been my "home" for sixteen years. If it were up to me I would never go back.

The Sunday dinners were a compromise. Two hours, once a week, when Vivianne got to mutter and pontificate to her heart's content, foist light sherry onto me in small, delicate glasses, and pick me apart with a fine-tooth comb. It was my therapist Carina's idea, and the arrangement had worked well for almost four years. It was a compromise.

I didn't want to cut all ties with Vivianne. She was my grandmother in theory, my mother in practice. Impossible to live with, impossible to live without.

Still, her phone calls that oppressively hot September week had breached our agreement. She wasn't supposed to call me unless it was an emergency. I never picked up, but that didn't stop her from leaving voicemail after voicemail: four on Tuesday, six on Thursday. One more late Friday night:

"I can hear them in the walls: they're whispering to me." That last one had made my skin crawl.


...

Join the Library's Online Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

What our readers think...