At the corner of Stanton Street she stopped to toss the cigarette into the gutter. Shelooked across the broad avenue and scanned the block for the building where she hadlived so long. But it was gone, it and the tenements on either side. Now there was a vasthole in the ground where the buildings had been, and soon, according to a large sign,there would be a housing project erected on the site.She closed her eyes and remembered the building, remembered their apartment on thefifth floor. A drab, joyless building, a cold and sterile apartment of three small rooms anda kitchenette, cracked plaster, cooking smells in the rooms and stale beer smells in thestairwell. How long had she lived there?When she was six they had moved there from another apartment she could not recallat all. And they had moved out five years ago, and she was twenty-two now. Eleven yearsin that apartment, and now it was gone, the whole building gone.She lit another cigarette. There were two left in her purse now. She gazed again at theempty lot. Everything was gone now, she thought. Her father had died in that apartment,and she and Ted and her mother had moved out while his coughing still echoed againstthe walls. And then her mother died in their new apartment in Parkchester, and now Tedwas somewhere in the South—Texas, Louisiana, Fort Something-Or-Other, drafted and packed and gone. Gone, gone, gone, everyone, everything. The family, the building,everything gone, and she was alone and lost. Now Ronnie was gone, too.She closed her eyes and tried to bring his image into focus. But it was blurred, fuzzyaround the edges, elusive as childhood memory. Only the lips, curled in a smile that wasnot a smile at all.“I think this is where I get off, Karen. But don’t think it hasn’t been fun…”She had cried, and he had left, and then her tears stopped and since that time she hadnot cried at all.She dropped the cigarette and crushed it underfoot She had only taken a few puffs onit and she decided that it did not matter—she had two left and two would be more thanenough. She turned away from the empty lot where she had lived once, went another block down Second Avenue, turned again on Rivington Street.The candy store was still here. She looked in through the fly-specked window for Mr.Reuben, but Mr. Reuben was gone and a Puerto Rican with a bushy black moustachestood behind the counter. All of the stools were empty. She opened the door and wentinside and ordered a chocolate egg cream. That was what she had always ordered at Mr.Reuben’s store. The man made her an egg cream and she looked at it for a moment, thentasted it. She tried to remember whether or not it tasted the same as egg creams had tasted before and it seemed very important to know whether it did or not. And then she decidedthat it wasn’t important at all. She paid a dime for the egg cream and put it downunfinished.“I don’t need this,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with it, you see, but I just don’twant it, that’s all.”The man did not understand. He said something in Spanish, and she looked at hisdark eyes and bushy moustache and turned and fled.