Uncle Peter

Mara came believing I would help her. I was her brother, after all. Perhaps things between us could be set right, and then she could talk me into giving her a little money until she found a job, or somehow got more money. Or, if I wouldn’t give her money, I could give her and her children a place to stay for a night. I could guide her to lawyers and counselors—people who could help a person like her. I could play with her children, cook breakfast, buy lunch, let them use my washer and dryer and towels.

She came unannounced on a Friday evening in early October 1992. Ross Perot had just reentered the presidential race. Derek Walcott had won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the Toronto Blue Jays were about to become the first Canadian franchise to win a World Series.

I was thirty-three years old, single, in decent shape, a college graduate with the unusual job of taking parts out of dead people. I was living alone with my dog, in a condo I’d purchased five years earlier.

That Friday, as she came down the road in the rain, Mara was twenty-seven and drove an old blue Escort our dad had bought her in high school. To the car’s long list of ailments she could now add a shattered windshield. In the rain she could barely see the road in front of her. Finally, she rolled down her window and leaned her head out to see.

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