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EPILOGUE

EPILOGUE

THE COLD HANGS on, and on. Sinks in deeper. Lost within it, forsaken, the duped and the defiled wander the streets of the Val in a haze. Wondering what’s happened.

One of them, Syd Cholke, enters her Regan Street apartment and drops onto the sofa. Slumps alone in the dark. Much later she hears the front door open and close, hears footsteps enter sheepishly. Then delicate, auburn-haired Alice Granberg sits down. No words are spoken between them. After a time Sydney goes to her and kneels and places her ear against the small hill of Alice’s belly, feels the baby roll lazily there. Soon both are dozing in this position, an empty birdcage on the end table nearby.

Mrs. Wintermute shrieks inside her narrow prison below ground, breath hitching in and out. She begs and she wails . . . screaming, screaming . . . and eventually becomes quiet at long last. Meg Bilobran sits propped in her theater balcony seat, draped in sheet plastic, eyes flung wide and staring, as if waiting for the
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