On “Cathedral.”

“By the time I was seven, my father had a new wife and a new baby. That baby was often sick. Every time my father planned something with me, like going to the children’s theatre or the zoo, the baby would get sick and he’d have to cancel. The good thing was that every time he cancelled he promised something else, something much more exciting than the thing we had to skip. I would think how lucky I was that I couldn’t go to a concert, say, because now I would get to visit a theatre! And when the theatre was cancelled I was promised the circus. And then the circus was cancelled, too, and I was promised something really special: a cross-country skiing trip. We’d take the train to the countryside and spend the whole day together. We’d ski through the woods with backpacks full of food, and we might even see some winter animals. I thought was incredible luck it was that my baby sister had been sick for the concert and the circus and the theatre! My father said next weekend. ‘Next weekend’ turned out to be an elusive time frame. The weekend after next was technically ‘next weekend,’ too, and the weekend after that, and the weekend after that. ‘You’re breaking her heart!’ I heard my mother scream on the phone. She was wrong, though. I was O.K. with all that waiting. I knew that one of the next weekends would have to be the ‘next weekend.’ I didn’t doubt my father even when winter officially ended. ‘Everybody knows the March snow is the best,’ my father said, and I repeated it endlessly. ‘My father and I are going on a ski trip soon. We’re just waiting for the best snow.’ Meanwhile, the snow in Moscow was melting at a discouraging rate. ‘There is still plenty of snow in the country,’ my father said. In the middle of March, a neighbor’s sick dog died. I asked my mother, ‘Why won’t my baby sister die, too? It would make it so much easier for everybody.’ She scolded me, but I overheard her recounting the conversation to my grandmother and laughing.”
Deaf and Blind,” Lara Vapnyar

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