“When Valerie got pregnant the first time she didn’t buy glossy parenting magazines and worry about things like the menace of soft cheeses and sushi, or whether or not to dye her hair. She had just buried her own mother, dead at forty-five from a quick and thorough cancer, and she felt such worries were silly when compared to other terrors. She started remembering awful things she’d read, like the part in a Vietnam veteran’s memoir in which enemy soldiers cinched the ankles of village wives’ billowy cotton pants and let loose venomous water snakes inside, so they’d have no way out but in. Or the part in a novel about shtetls in Russia where during a pogrom, Cossacks sliced open the bellies of pregnant Jewish women and sewed up live puppies or rabbits inside them in place of their murdered babies.
It was then that Valerie started dreaming about the rats…”
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