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The first time she saw a dead body, Kate was crossing the bridge into Wenatchee. The man lay on the steep bank, face down, naked, his skin a startling white in the yellow dust. An ambulance was parked on the shoulder, and the attendants leaned against it, smoking. Kate could hear loud hard-rock music coming from the car radio of a couple who, like her, had slowed down for a look. She wondered who that man was and why he was naked. It seemed symbolic, somehow, as if he had just been reborn and would, at any moment, lift his head, put on his clothes and begin a new life. This made her think of Lethe, the mythological river of oblivion where, before rebirth, the dead drink to forget their former lives and sins. Had the dead man purposely thrown himself into this river? She was able to ponder this because the man was unknown to her and because Kate, too, was a stranger, a visitor passing through on her way to Pateros where her new husband waited.
She is reminded of the dead man now, two years later, as she crosses a different bridge, the interface between her present and her past which, try as she might, she has not forgotten.

She is here in Twisp, Washington, that godforsaken, end-of-the-highway-in-winter town where her father still lives, because two days ago, his second wife, Elaine, fell into the river and drowned. Finally gone. What astounds Kate -- who has waited so long for this moment, who spent years of her childhood fantasizing about it -- is that she feels nothing. Or perhaps, a small twist of guilt, as if she were somehow responsible, simply by the act of longing.

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