THE SETTING is the SOO TOWNHOME, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK. THE YEAR is 1905. It has been unusually rainy this year. There have been occasional days of a humid heat, when the smell of the rivers seeps inland: an impolite plague.
MYRTLE SOO is a five-year-old girl. Her dense, raven locks are cut as if by scythe just underneath her jaw. She wears a clean, if plain, frock.
MYRTLE is playing jacks on the poured steps of her home, a vaguely Victorian brownstone.
In the distance can be heard the roar of an elevated train. The SOO TOWNHOME is a few small blocks from the railway.
MYRTLE stops her game and is fishing in her pocket when she hears footfall. She looks down to see a woman in a red-gold Oriental dress.
WO DE BABA —
MYRTLE stops suddenly, her tongue thick in her throat. She is dumbstruck, as if choking on a bit of unchewed food.
The WOMAN IN THE RED DRESS pushes past the child and walks up the steps.
DON’T WORRY, YOUR DADDY’S EXPECTING ME.