Excerpt: Circumference of Silence


October 26, 2014


Mali Feuer stands outside her mother’s door, struggling to fit the key into the lock. The narrow, carpeted hallway is dim, stuffy. Talk show voices bark unintelligible words at her from inside the apartment next door. Now the key is in but won’t turn. With an impatient huff, she yanks her messenger bag off her shoulder, abandoning it to the floor along with her mother’s mail. Unencumbered, she tries again, this time pulling the door in tight and turning the key at the same time. The bolt clicks back, the door gives way.


Through the window, at the opposite end of the living room, a strip of the East River glimmers, winking at her in the sunlight. She leaves her mother’s keys and mail on the little table in the entryway, slings her bag across the back of a dining chair, and heads for the balcony. She pushes the door wide open to let badly needed air into the place—exactly, she thinks, as her mother would’ve done—and steps outside.


In the sunshine, she takes a deep breath and leans against the railing, mesmerized by the cars, the buses, and the people below her: everything in miniature from this nineteenth-story height. Mali closes her eyes. A silky ribbon of air caresses her face and, as if directed by some ghostly messenger from the past, she is transported years back and miles away.


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