When I was in the second grade, I became best friends with Gretchen Miller, a girl who lived in my New York City apartment house, and with whom I walked to school and back. We thought we were more mature than our classmates and this, probably, was the glue that bound us together. We listened to our parents discuss current events, things we could barely understand, but then came up with our own opinions that we hotly debated. We avoided boys, whom we considered dirty and disgusting, although Kevin was a major exception. We didn't dare talk to him, but we spent many hours talking about him. We wondered if we both could somehow marry Kevin when we grew up, but then decided that we wouldn't marry anyone; we would live together and be best friends always.

Gretchen and I swore to many friendship pacts over the course of our elementary school lives. We vowed to defend each other against harm—both physical and emotional. We traded belongings—backpacks, pencils, and umbrellas—although not clothing because I was shorter and heavier. Our parents indulged us as we had no siblings, and assumed that without each other we'd be lonely. We had sleepovers and were often invited for supper in each other's homes.

What came next was Gretchen's idea. We were in the schoolyard at recess and had just found out that for the first time since second grade, we wouldn't be in the same class next fall. It was the last year before junior high school and it wasn't clear to either of us why this was happening. We were both upset, but we understood that at eleven years old and without the power of adults we could likely do nothing about it. Gretchen said that even though we'd be apart in school, we must vow to each other that nothing else would change.

"Do you know what a blood oath is, Irene?" she asked.

I didn't, but the word blood sounded terrifying. Gretchen explained what we'd have to do.

"First, we have to find a secret place to go to," she said. "Then we have to cut our finger, so it bleeds, not a lot, just a little, and then press our cuts together, so the blood mixes and we swear lifelong friendship no matter what."

I felt lightheaded, thinking about what she was proposing. I remembered having blood tests at the doctor and how I refused to look, but then I did, and fainted dead away when I saw the dark red liquid flowing into a tube. My mother, who was in the room, screamed and grabbed me and that made it worse—the needle popped out of my arm and blood gushed all over my skirt.

But Gretchen had an insistent way about her that could talk a person into anything. Neither of us understood at that time the problem of blood incompatibility or the need to use sterile implements to make cuts. If I'd known I probably would have said no, but Gretchen was bubbling over with excitement and so we planned how to do this—how we'd become blood sisters.

"Can't we just go to one of our apartments and do it in the bathroom?" I asked.

"That's an important part of the oath. No matter what happens in our lives, we have to come back to that place every year on the same date and repledge our allegiance to each other. If we moved, we couldn't come back every year."

"You mean come back even when we are old?"

"Yes, if we are going to be lifelong friends."

"And cut our fingers every year?"

"No, silly! Just once. But we need to pledge every year."

"How about the schoolyard?"

"Too out in the open. What about the kiosk in Inwood Park? There's a private spot behind it with bushes and a bench."

"Okay. When?"

"June 30. The last day of school. We'll do it on the way home. I'll bring something to make the cuts and you bring Band-Aids."

It mostly drizzled on the day of the oath. But by the time the school bell rang, the rain stopped and patches of blue appeared in the sky. I thought it was a positive omen. But to be honest, I was scared. I tried to think of an alternative to the blood part, but Gretchen said that was the only way to make an oath sacred, and I believed her. We walked to the park and found the kiosk. No one was around. I wondered how long the kiosk would remain standing. It was wooden and already rotting at the bottom. It was open on weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day and sold sodas, popcorn, and ice cream. On the bench behind the structure, we removed what we needed from our backpacks. Gretchen brought several safety pins and I had two Band-Aids that I got from our medicine chest.

"We have to stick each other," Gretchen said. I don't know how Gretchen knew these rules, but despite my fear I let her do it. As blood ran down our fingers, we pressed them tightly to each other and chanted the short oath Gretchen had written out swearing that we would love and protect each other, and always be best friends and blood sisters.

The summer passed as it had for years. Neither of us went to sleep-away camp like many of our classmates. We had each other and that was all that mattered. The neighborhood was safe, and our parents let us have free range. We roller skated on the sidewalks of upper Manhattan and rode our bikes in Inwood Park. In the afternoons, we went to the Inwood Pharmacy, which had a soda fountain, and ordered ten-cent cherry lime rickeys. We sat on the stools in the air-conditioned store gabbing away until the manager asked us how long we were going to sit there. In the evenings, after supper, we played stoopball, potsy, and Johnny May I Cross Your River with the kids in our building until our parents leaned out the window and called us in to go to sleep.

Toward the end of August, the first few leaves of the ginkgo trees in front of our building turned mustard yellow, the days got shorter, and I saw that all the fun we were having was finally winding down. School would be starting in less than two weeks, and I hadn't made a real dent in the reading list I was given. I asked Gretchen if she'd read her assignments and she said she hadn't gotten the list. I felt torn between my friend and the work I should have done all summer. So, I continued to spend my days with her and then read well into the late hours at night. I wanted to get off to a good start as an elementary school senior.


Once school began, Gretchen and I no longer shared a lunch or recess period. We did walk to school and back every day and, based on our conversations, things seemed to be fine. We spent time at each other's apartments and did homework together. That's when I realized I was in a more advanced class than Gretchen; the math and reading coursework was more complex. It was typical in earlier grades that I helped Gretchen with her assignments, and this continued even though we weren't studying the same things.

One afternoon in the late fall, we were in my bedroom when Gretchen said, "I have something to tell you, Irene. Want to guess?"

It could've been hundreds of things.

"Tell me," I said.

"I got my period."

"Today?"

"No, about a week ago."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"Well, I'm telling you now," she said. "Anyway, I thought you might be jealous."

"I'd never be jealous of you. We're best friends." But as I was saying this, I felt an emptiness in my chest, a feeling of being left out. I told myself that my time would come soon; doesn't it happen to every girl eventually?

"And my mother is taking me downtown to buy bras and get my ears pierced to celebrate my becoming a woman."

"Can I come with you?"

"I'm sorry, Irene. It's a mother and daughter thing." I could understand this. But what she didn't say is that she wished I could be included.

"Stop in when you get back. I want to hear everything."

I didn't hear anything from her on late Saturday or all-day Sunday, and my discomfort kept me from knocking on her apartment door. I knew I would see her Monday morning, walking to school, so I kept quiet, although something gnawed at me—something I couldn't put into words.

At Sunday supper, I asked my mother, "What happens if a girl doesn't grow breasts or get her period?"

"Oh, she almost always does."

"Almost always?"

"I imagine there are some cases of girls with hormone or eating problems, but healthy girls all go through puberty. You know about all that, right?" I nodded. "Anyway, you're still really young. Some girls don't menstruate until fourteen. Don't worry."

"I'm not worried," I said. "Just wanted to know." Since she didn't mention Gretchen, I assumed she hadn't spoken to Mrs. Miller. Fourteen was a long way off. I went into the bathroom, pulled up my shirt, and looked in the mirror. There were little buds, no more than the size of mosquito bites on my chest, but nothing one could call breasts. I wondered how the body knows when to develop, but I figured my parents would not be the ones to educate me.

Gretchen and I met on Monday, but nothing was said about the shopping trip on the way to school. She said she was having a test that morning and hadn't studied although she told her parents she had.

"Why don't you take it seriously?" I asked. She shrugged and shook her head laughing. I noticed tiny gold hoops in Gretchen's earlobes.

"Irene, we're not even in junior high school yet," she said. "And anyway, who cares?"

As we arrived at the schoolyard entrance, Amanda, a girl in Gretchen's class, ran over to us. "That was so much fun, but my ears hurt a lot. I hope I'm not getting an infection." She pulled her hair back and I saw that she had the same earrings as Gretchen.

"You have to keep swabbing them with alcohol," Gretchen said.

"I thought you were going alone with your mother," I said when Amanda left.

"I didn't say that. I said it was a mother-daughter thing. Amanda came with her mother." She stared at me with her piercing eyes. "You know," she said, "I'm allowed to have friends besides you."

I could hardly concentrate on schoolwork that day. It was as though a switch had been pulled and my whole world burst like a bubble. But Gretchen was right. Even if I was her blood sister, she didn't have to include me in everything she did. And I didn't either. I hadn't made much of an effort to get to know the new girls in my class, but now I would.

We still walked back and forth to school and once in a while when Gretchen needed help with her homework, she came to my apartment and stayed for supper. If my parents noticed anything amiss in our friendship, they didn't say.

In February, I received a letter from the school saying that if I chose to, I could be assigned to a rapid acceleration program in junior high school, meaning that I would complete 7th, 8th, and 9th grades in two years. My parents thought it was a great idea, the best teachers and textbooks would be used for these classes, and it would be challenging intellectually. I worried about what it would do to my friendship with Gretchen. By the second year of the program and from then on, we'd be in different grades. But after much discussion, they convinced me it was an honor and opportunity I shouldn't turn down.

I decided to say nothing to Gretchen, but somehow she must have heard and said, "I found out you're skipping a grade. You sure you want to do that?"

"Actually, not skipping. Doing three years in two," I said.

"Well, I guess you'll be working your butt off while I'm having fun." She flipped her long hair over her shoulder and smiled. That's when I saw that her light brown hair, usually pulled back in a ponytail, was loose and streaked with gold and red.

"Did you do something to your hair?"

"Yeah. My mom did these highlights. What do you think?" she said.

She reminded me of a tri-colored calico cat.

"It's pretty," I said. "But what made her do it?"

Gretchen stopped walking, turned to me, and with a wide-eyed gaze said, "Actually, she didn't want to, but I pestered until she gave in. I said that I was tired of mousy brown hair and that if she refused I would do it myself and probably do a crappy job. Of course, I didn't tell her the real reason."

"And what's that?" I asked. I couldn't imagine what was coming next.

"I want to be noticed," she said, and then added, "By Kevin."

I remembered the fuss we used to make over that boy when we were much younger, but I always thought it was some sort of game, not something to be taken seriously. He was one of those boys who tried to act cool, used cuss words in almost every sentence, and tried to dress like Elvis.

"Gretchen," I said, "we're twelve, not even teenagers yet. Why are you in such a hurry to grow up?"

"Because I am growing up and understand things better than you do right now," she said.

Gretchen was bundled up in a wool coat, but even so, I could see her outline and it was true, she was much more mature looking than I was. "Well, being boy-crazy in elementary school is just plain crazy," I said.

She smiled and said, "See you later."


Within a short time, our walks home in the afternoon became rare events. Either Gretchen had some project she had to work on with other kids in her class or she dawdled in the schoolyard flirting and holding Kevin's hand. Sometimes, when she was with him, she acted as though she didn't know me, or as though I was transparent.

The end of the semester was near, and the sixth grade planned to put on a commencement play. Tryouts were announced, but I couldn't imagine getting up in front of the auditorium filled with students and parents and saying something I'd had to memorize. Yet, Gretchen was excited to audition and could hardly speak about anything else. The part she wanted required singing, so she spent many afternoons going over the lyrics and the speaking lines. I was happy to give her cues and it seemed as though she could potentially win the role. It was the first time I saw Gretchen really aim for something and concentrate. I wasn't at the audition, but I heard she blew everyone out of the competition. It became an obsession with her to the point where she insisted that I and everyone else including her parents call her Elizabeth, the name of the young girl in the play, so that she could stay in character for the weeks before the performance.

The play itself was nothing special. It was written by the sixth-grade teachers who co-opted popular songs to which they changed the lyrics, and the costumes were homemade and slightly ridiculous. But Gretchen was a standout and brought the audience of parents and students to its feet, cheering. A few days after the show, one of the fathers who worked in advertising contacted Gretchen's parents and asked that she be allowed to appear in some commercials he was producing.

There was only one week before school ended, one week before June 30, the date of our blood oath renewal. I wondered if Gretchen was still interested in doing this. Her family was busy signing contracts, finding her an agent, and taking her downtown for ad shoots. When we talked—now only occasionally—it was all about her. She never asked about my aspirations or even how I was feeling, which was sad. Everyone was growing up except me. I would look in the mirror and I couldn't tell if I'd changed at all since fourth grade. Junior high school was looming, and I was scared of having no friends. But two days before the end of school, Gretchen knocked on my door and whispered, "The kiosk after school on Friday—be there or be square!" I was so happy, I hugged her and said, "I'll be there."

We didn't walk together to the kiosk. Gretchen said she had something private to say to Kevin first, so I got there before she did. I waited for about twenty minutes and was about to give up when she sashayed down the path, waving at me.

"Did you bring the oath?" I asked when she finally arrived at the bench behind the kiosk.

"Oops! I forgot. Sorry. Well, never mind. We can make it up." She mumbled something about being there for each other but left off the always and forever part. I knew then that this would be the last year of our blood oath. Our lives would be going in different directions; hers full of glitter and spotlight and mine, well, mine not full of anything I could think of. I remembered that a year ago we skipped home holding hands and giggling, but now we followed the same path with Gretchen talking about Kevin—why he was a total jerk and not worth even one minute of her time. I wondered if she would come to think I wasn't worth her time, too.


The summer zoomed by in a flash. I had a long reading list—both fiction and non-fiction, and I did some babysitting in my building. Gretchen was mostly tied up with her new teen career. But we did see each other now and then, so I was aware of the changes going on in her life. For one thing, now that she had an agent, she did some fashion modeling and even got a spot in Seventeen magazine. She looked older, with a new hairstyle and color, and make-up. I, on the other hand, had a plain, childish face, as though I had been frozen at the age of ten. One evening, when Gretchen dropped by, my father wanted to take a picture of us together. I refused.

When school started, I began to make new friends. These kids were smart and fun and although we mostly didn't live in the same neighborhood, I was old enough to take public transportation. There were weeks when I didn't think about my blood sister and what she was doing, but occasionally, my mother, who was friendly with Mrs. Miller, would fill me in on Gretchen's activities. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to hear about her or not, but I knew my parents would think I was jealous if I told them to stop telling me, so I let it continue.

By the end of seventh grade, I started to catch up on my physical development, and I began to feel more comfortable about my body. On June 30, I walked to the kiosk and waited for over an hour for Gretchen to appear. Then I went home where my mother told me that the Miller family was in New England at an audition for Gretchen in summer stock theater.

"If she gets the part, we can all go," my mother said. "Wouldn't that be fun?"

"Sure," I said, not looking at her. "Love to see her on stage."

The summer before ninth grade, I turned fourteen, got a work permit, and applied to volunteer several times a week at a local hospital. My job was to enter lab requisitions and results into patients' charts after their doctors signed off. I was not as quick as some of the other volunteers because I wanted to read everything I charted. I particularly paid attention to the women patients: their obstetric cases, or what diseases brought them to the hospital and what treatments they were undergoing. I think it was because I understood so little about my own body that I wanted to get some insight into others of my own sex. I went to the hospital library on my days off and read about surgery, radiation, and the early use of chemotherapy for breast and ovarian cancer. I wanted to know all about heart and lung disease, and problems in giving birth. I could hardly understand the technical vocabulary, so, with a medical dictionary beside me, everything was slow going.

One day as I was sitting trying to read the Surgeon General's report on smoking and lung disease that had just come out, I noticed a young man browsing the shelves and finally selecting a book. When he turned around, he smiled and came over.

"You're a bit young to be a medical student," he said.

I laughed and said, "Going into ninth grade. I'm Irene—a volunteer."

"I'm Arnie," he said. "Last year of City College and working in the bacteriology diagnostic lab for the summer." We shook hands. It felt like a very grown-up thing to do. "I'm applying to med school in the fall."

We talked for a while and then gradually began to take our lunch together. He was like a big brother who looked after me and explained things I didn't understand. I realized that having a sibling would have been wonderful. And if I'd had one, I might not have been so attached to Gretchen, who now was off in summer stock, too busy to write to me.

"Have you thought about what you'd like to do in the future?" he asked. I was glad he didn't say when you grow up.

"I love reading about the human body, so I was thinking about medical school and then going into women's health," I said.

"Gynecology is a surgical specialty. Would you like to see an operation? There's an observation area above the operating room that you can get a pass for."

I didn't tell him about my childish fear of blood. I was older now and had to put that behind me if I was to become a doctor. "That would be great," I said.

We sat together watching a hysterectomy. The patient was wheeled in and transferred to the operating table. An IV had already been started and she appeared to be sedated. Her heart and respiration were monitored. There was some discussion, but I couldn't hear through the thick glass. The anesthesiologist began to inject something through the IV and the woman quickly went to sleep. The patient was draped, and when the first cut was made, I let out a gasp. Arnie patted my shoulder and I settled down to watch. The operation went on for at least an hour, but to me the time flew by. Finally, they lifted out the organ from the patient's body and began to close it up. I could not remember a time when I was so fascinated and exhilarated. After it was over and the woman was taken to the recovery room, I thanked Arnie, and told him it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.


At home, my mother asked me if I would like to travel to Massachusetts with her over the weekend to see Gretchen perform. Despite only having a supporting role in the play, local newspaper reviews of her acting were glowing—saying she was someone to keep an eye on. Gretchen's mother, who was with her for the season because of her age, invited us both to join them. We didn't have a car, so my mother arranged bus tickets for the long ride. I was excited to see Gretchen and wanted to share with her the news about my job, the decision I made about what to do with my life, and about my new friend, Arnie. I thought this news would somehow put us on the same level, or at least be something she would be interested in.

But when we got to town and checked into our motel, we found out that Gretchen was in rehearsal, and I wouldn't be able to talk with her until after the show. While Mrs. Miller and my mother chatted, I wandered over to the theater—a modern barn-like structure, a quarter of a mile away. The adult actors were on a break, sitting outside smoking, or drinking cans of soda, but I couldn't see Gretchen among them. I walked through the parking lot to a wooded area behind the theater and there, leaning against an enormous tree, a couple was kissing and groping each other. They were far enough away that I couldn't make out their ages, but the man was clearly much older than the girl. That's when I thought, could it be Gretchen? And then, how could it not be Gretchen? When the couple finally broke away from each other, she walked toward me.

"Don't report this to my mother, or your mother for that matter," she said.

"What are you doing? That guy is at least twice your age," I said, controlling my shaking voice.

"Who are you to tell me what I should and shouldn't do?"

"I'm your blood sister. We took an oath to protect each other. Don't you remember?"

"Oh, grow up! We're not in the same world anymore. You have no idea what mine is like."

I turned around and headed back to the motel where I told my mother I had a terrible stomachache and that she should go to the play without me. I felt awful lying especially since my mother blamed herself for the egg salad sandwich she'd made and that I ate during the bus ride north. I crawled into bed and when everyone left, I thought about whether it was time for Gretchen and me to break our oath. I had no idea how to do that. Another bloodletting? I wanted to call Arnie to talk to him about the situation, but it was long distance; my mother would find out and ask a million questions. Arnie was older than me, but it was not as big an age gap as what I'd witnessed, and besides, we hadn't kissed—not even close. I wondered if Arnie had ever thought of me the way that guy was with Gretchen and how it would have felt if we had kissed.

When we boarded the bus home, there were few seats left and my mother and I had to sit several rows apart, which was fine because I didn't want to discuss Gretchen with her or my so-called stomach ailment. The only thing she'd said when she got back to the room after the play was that Gretchen was a star that shone brightly that night.


Once ninth grade began, I was swept up in schoolwork and my volunteering on weekends at the hospital. Arnie went back to college. He wrote to me a few times and I answered. He told me all the places he was applying to medical school, and I told him that I was going to take the test for a select public high school that specialized in the sciences. He wished me luck and told me he had a girlfriend. That was the last time we communicated.

Gretchen and her family left Inwood and moved to midtown Manhattan that year so that she could be closer to her voice teacher and eventually attend the High School of Performing Arts. I wondered if she was about to write me out of her life when she called on the phone and asked if I was going to be at the kiosk on June 30.

"I thought that was a thing of the past," I said.

"Oh no. Once our blood mixes, there is no way to undo the oath." After all my readings at the medical library, I knew that was a totally made-up fact, but for some reason, I was reluctant to let go of her and so I said, "Sure, I'll be there." But when the day arrived, it was pouring rain and we decided that we'd forego it until next year. The conversation was brief.

My high school years reinforced my desire to study medicine and when the time came, I selected a university that had strong biology and chemistry departments and where I also could be competitive for a scholarship. I knew, through my mother, that Gretchen's career had really taken off. She told me the ins and outs of auditions, modeling, and ad shoots, and all the glamorous parts of her life. I wondered if my mother knew as much about her own daughter and if she shared her pride with Mrs. Miller.

Each June, for some unfathomable reason, I returned to the kiosk, hoping that Gretchen would appear, but knowing she wouldn't. I didn't want to go back to the way things used to be, wallowing in nostalgia, but to move on to a new relationship as adults. But it never happened. There were years of complete silence. Gretchen's family had an unlisted number and had moved several times. My mother stopped reporting to me about her and, although I didn't know for sure, I supposed that she and Gretchen's mother had broken off their correspondence as well. I decided not to ask.

I was admitted to medical school in upstate New York and moved into the dormitory. It was an exciting but rigorous time. Although I'd breezed my way through many courses in high school and even college, this was a definite challenge because of the need to memorize and recall just about everything—especially during the first two years. I couldn't wait until the clinical rotations started so that I could work with patients. In the meantime, I saw a notice on the dorm bulletin board about a women's clinic that needed volunteers on the weekends. I immediately signed up.

Once I started, I realized how privileged and sheltered my life had been. These were, for the most part, poor and poorly educated patients: a woman who never heard of contraception, a nine-month pregnant woman in labor who had no idea she was pregnant, an eleven-year-old girl wanting to understand why she was bleeding since her mother was no longer around and her father wouldn't talk about it, women with endometriosis, and a woman who came alone for infertility treatments although she knew it was her husband who was sterile. I dove into this work as though it were a matter of utmost urgency and brought back a new fervor to my clinical rotations at school. I knew for sure that this was my life's mission.


In my senior year, as I was preparing applications for gynecology residencies late one night, my phone rang. Late calls scared me. I thought about my father, who had undergone cardiac bypass surgery, and my mother, whose severe migraine headaches had recently begun. But it wasn't my family; it was Gretchen. It had been such a long time since we spoke. I almost didn't recognize her voice. It was soft and low, trained.

"I heard you're almost a doctor," she said. "Our mothers still talk all the time. She said you were going into women's health. I'm glad for you and your patients. You've always been so dedicated, and serious about everything. I really admired that."

I wondered why my mother never said a word about remaining in touch with Mrs. Miller. Ironically, the two of them were closer than their daughters were. I only partially heard what Gretchen said next.

"Say that again," I said.

"Have you ever performed an abortion?" Her voice was even lower.

"You mean as part of my training?"

"Yes."

"Well, of course. I did D&Cs, with supervision, on women who miscarried."

"I need your help. I need an abortion and I want you to do it."

I was shocked and yet I wasn't. My head was swimming with replies that would be decisive and yet wouldn't jeopardize what was left of our friendship.

"Gretchen, abortion is legal in New York State," I said. "Go to your gynecologist or to a clinic."

"No. Reporters from the rags follow me around. I don't want my private life splashed on every front page."

"I'm not a licensed doctor. And even if I was, I wouldn't treat someone I know. It's not ethical."

"Well, aren't you the high and mighty one? I've never asked you for a single thing and now when I'm in need, you act so superior. Come to think of it, you always acted as though you were better than me. But look at us now: you in your little world and me in my big one."

"I'm just telling you the way it is. I don't know who you think I am to be able to do what you're asking."

"You're my blood sister. You took an oath."

There were thousands of things I could have said at this point but what would it prove? All my life I suspected that if I didn't do what Gretchen asked, her love for me, if it ever existed, would evaporate, like dew on a sunny day. Now I knew my suspicion was right. I carefully placed the receiver back in its cradle and pulled the cord from the wall.

I sat on my dormitory bed staring out the window. It was over. All those years of innocence and delusion.

Months later, I received a residency match at a medical institution outside the state. I was happy to leave New York and start fresh in a new place. After graduation, I spent a few weeks at my parents' apartment—in my old bedroom, near my old elementary school—before heading south. During that time, I took long walks to try to sort out the various emotional ups and downs I was experiencing. On one of those afternoon walks, I ended up in Inwood Park. The kiosk no longer existed; it had been replaced with a food trailer, a menu board propped up along its approach. But the bench was still there, moved a bit to the side. I sat there for a long time watching a flock of pigeons fighting over taco crumbs on the ground. I noticed that the trailer was not the only new installation in the park. The playground, in the distance, had modern, colorful equipment, not just metal slides and rusty swings suspended by chains. The baseball fields had brand new backstops, and the path around the fields was now paved and descended to the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, the waterway that separates Manhattan from the Bronx. I felt like a tourist in my own neighborhood.

The sun was warm on my face. I closed my eyes and took myself back almost two decades. Two little girls, one tall and one short, held hands and giggled while skipping up the gravel path. All that love and joy with years and years to look forward to.


Title image "Offering" Copyright © The Summerset Review 2022.