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Day 7

W-3 by Bette Howland

Chapter 5 (p. 93–106, to end)

October 25, 2022 by Lynn Steger Strong

Observation both does and doesn't equal understanding: Bette listens to the late night talk between Cootie, Simone, Frankie, and Henry; watches Simone get ready to leave for nowhere; as Cootie finally talks: What has happened to our relationship to cause and effect?

Identity and time continue to be slippery: "later on" Bette will see a photograph of herself that reminds her of Frankie; something Simone said has affected Frankie powerfully, made her "see faces"; Bette wonders, later, if Simone, through Frankie, hasn't done the same to her.

It's odd that the one thing that never occurred to me at the time, the simplest explanation, was that I really had been seeing the same things Frankie saw. Whatever that was—some third thing, some objective fact. I'm pretty sure it had something to do with Simone... And I was getting it all secondhand, through Frankie.

Over the course of these twelve days Cootie has gone from silent refusal to silent omnipotence, at least where Simone is concerned: she leaves, seeming "actually radiant"; while Simone becomes a permanent ward of the state.

The impression was unmistakable. Cootie was a keeper.

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