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It was all over the papers. It was all over the office, too, in whispers and the tsk-ing of tongues, the occasional, theatrical sob. The girl had known her killer. And he came at her with a knife. Probably he had. That was how it usually went on TV. His name was Daniel Ethan Milstein. When you killed someone, the newspapers called you by all of your names.
Which was what was pretty terrifying. Now that she was dead? When you were thirty-one and alive, you got to be a girl. A dead thirty-one-year-old, though: that was a woman. She and Sophie were watching TV. They were always watching TV. The men Yael and Sophie dated were like action figures. Instead of names, they came with titles: the hipster, the balding Jew, the enormously fat man. They all came from online. Yael went out more than Sophie did, but that was because Yael went out with anyone. So long as there was a pulse, ha-ha. one on the list: Find a boyfriend.
Sophie already had a wedding guest list prepared. Yael, for her part, was going to skip having a wedding. This would be her revenge for years of being forced to be a guest at disgustingly lavish, self-congratulatory affairs. Oh, the non-guests would say. Yael is so good. And they would wince at the memories of their bloated, frilly monster-cruise-ship weddings.
She would just show them. The other goals were boring: Get out more. That was the ticket? Do yoga. Eat more kale. There were chemicals in it that could kill you, she explained, and also she was lazy. Sophie was getting a Ph. Yael was a little jealous of that. Now all they needed was a plot. They were also collaborating—this was more of a long-term project— on a musical about their lives. The musical also had dogs in it, but instead of sex crimes, there was no sex. The opening involved the Yael and Sophie composite character waiting by the phone for a date. They were supposed to be writing a musical, but they were watching TV.
They were eating French fries. The dogs were getting into everything. The girl on SVU was getting raped in an alleyway. Some Googling, obviously, was acceptable, to be expected, part of the job. She worked for an online magazine geared toward Jewish women. Women, in this case, meant mothers. The magazine was called Modern Mama. It was supposed to be a Yiddish reference—a Fiddler on the Roof kind of Mama, but Yael could just bet there were hoards of disappointed porn-seekers visiting the site each day. But first a wife! She just had to keep trying, maybe lower her standards a little, when did she become so picky?
She wrote an advice column and answered questions about how long was too long when it came to breast-feeding. The answer: never! Do it until the Chupah. She was working there ironically, she told herself and also anyone who asked what it was that she did. Also, there was something about the idea of working for gentiles that felt a little unsettling.
Gentiles were fine, but there was just something suspect about them, like an off-brand of cottage cheese you might as well not try. Plus—the Holocaust, right? It would just be called a place of work, period. She was Googling Daniel Ethan Milstein. The articles were all speculative. It was like a choose-your-own adventure story, a Mad Libs fill-in-the-blank: Schizophrenia, sociopathy, a particularly nasty strain of Bipolar I.
Yael had met him just the once. Yael, for want of an actual date, brought Sophie. Of course not. He had dismembered her. That was a fact omitted from the HR had sent around. Libby Silberstein had been something of a cunt. A terrible thing to say, now that she was dead. Now that she was dead, obviously, she was the best person who had ever lived. The world was so achingly lucky to have had her in it; she had touched so many lives; if there was anyone in the running to replace God, you can bet it had been her.
Yael tried now to remember what Daniel Ethan Milstein had said. Had he laughed? Coughed into his fist and looked away? Wormed the hand down to her butt? Surely there must have been some of what was to come, even if it had seemed hidden at the time. The main thing that came out of the party was an idea for a new in the musical, about pussies. The cat kind, but with the option of a pun to read into. This time, it was in a college dorm room. She was passed out drunk, and the man who was raping her was blond and handsome; he wore a school ring, and his name was Chad.
It was a story ripped from the headlines. They aimed for once a day. For Frank Sinatra, it was all about the squirrels. The squirrels were jerks, though. Scarecrow Lady staggered over with a scowl. Like the dates, the people at the dog-run also were without real names. Scarecrow Lady was either anorexic or had a syndrome. Whatever it was, she was terrifying, and she never shared her tennis balls. She had elbows pointy enough to take an eye out. They other regulars were: the weird man; the perfect couple; George Clooney. The only ones with real names were the dogs. Whatever sense of humor or originality she might have had in her life, it was sucked out of her now.
That was a woman to avoid becoming. If a man had a golden retriever, you could bet he was married, almost definitely with children. Small dogs on a man meant gay, married or in a serious relationship. Pitt bulls were what you were going to get if you were looking for a single, straight man. A hipster might have a dog missing a leg or an eye. The hipster Yael had gone out with had the trifecta: a pit bull without eyes who was also dead. She was the sweetest dog in the world, he told her—she had been, anyway.
It made Yael vomit in her mouth even to remember. The guy, more than the dog. He grew life-affirming plants because the city air was too toxic for vegetables. He was also making a DIY record. Records had a purer sound, he explained. But that was exactly what everyone would say about him if he did. If you were playing a neighbor on SVU , that was your line. That was what all the articles were saying about Daniel Ethan Milstein.
Bernadette Peters hopped up on the bench, growling at the other dogs from the safety of her perch. She was neurotic and antisocial. It would be hard for her not to be, with Yael as her main role model.Bennington girl wants sex
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