MATTERS OF CHANCE
I still dream of Hannah twenty-six years later, and wonder what became of her. I see her as unmarried, sometimes living alone andsometimes living with a bent and white-haired Isaac, out of prison at last. Iask if he collects Social Security, unable to remember the rules for convicted murderers.Indeed, I think that Isaac was actually convicted of manslaughter,although I’ve never quite seen how stabbing your wife with a bread knifeis anything less than murder. The knife had always been there, ready to cutgreat slabs of the pumpernickel Isaac brought home from work. I can seehim using it on Rose instead of on the thick black bread if she pushed him just too far when he already had the knife in hand. And yet I can’t, for allthe years I’ve thought about it.I get angry too; everyone does. With my husband, say, or with mychildren. When my boys were very little, I’d sometimes slap one of themin a rage, so mad I wanted only to keep on hitting until my child beggedme from the floor to stop. But I never gave way to more than those fewslaps, no matter what I felt like doing.Once I even locked myself in the bedroom to protect Daniel from me;he was in the middle of an unending toddler’s tantrum and I couldn’t makehim leave me alone. I locked myself in and covered my head with pillowswhile Dan screamed and banged and hammered on the door. I was pregnant for the second time; Bob was interning and on duty at thehospital thirty-six hours out of every forty-eight. Huddled on the bed,knowing I’d be alone with Dan for ten more hours, I was afraid I’d killhim if I came out of the room.Then why did Isaac stab Rose to death? I knew Isaac, I knew Rose, aswell as a child knows close neighbors when you’re poor together, andsometimes I feel I understand and then again I don’t.