Jane was a nurse who’d climb into a hospital bed to comfort a dying patient, not caring about contagion. But then it turned out maybe she wasn’t a nurse, or her car was gone. She left her sister on the sidewalk while she used a café restroom, and then she didn’t come back. There were mysteries and veils to protect her parents and siblings but also alarming confessions: she’d lost an apartment, she’d saved someone’s life, she’d been stalked or fired or mugged. She wasn’t at Christmas, she was in microsurgery with a man who’d cut off his penis. “He wasn’t himself when he did it,” she said. She was practical and had no perspective. “It’s sad,” she said, “but he’ll be okay. I’m sure he would change if he could.” Her voice hadn’t sounded like her for several years, and her laugh was a dry, hard cackle.

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