Beyond Belief

Annie Kantar

There’s one hundred and three year-old Mazal, known for the decades she gave to cleaning bodies before burial. Preparing the dead for death. Did they ever come to you, I ask. No, she guffaws, proof, as she sees it, of a job well done. Only one: during the eulogies, someone saw something move, and she was called to return and open the shroud. It was all fire up there, the woman said, they told me there’s no room for me yet. Sometimes I tell this story as a test: if you believe it, you can be my friend. Sometimes it helps to visit another realm and I don’t mean the realm of the dead. I phone my sister, across the Atlantic. Mazal waves to the face on the screen, then notices it’s her own. So pretty, she says when S. appears, then rounds her arms—your belly will grow, grow, grow!—and when I come back to tell the impossible, she looks up at the ceiling and laughs at what she knows she knows she knows.