Each morning Angela awoke and looked out at the sky. Then she rose and tapped her bedside table exactly twenty-four times with her forefinger, then put her small feet into a pair of worn velvet slippers that she kept tucked under her bed, toes pointing towards the room’s door as if ready to walk out at any moment. She phoned the Fall River weather hotline and listened as the recorded voice narrated what to expect from the wind and sky.
Then Angela stepped to her wardrobe, which was organized by suitability for various weather conditions. On days that were sunny and still, she could be found in one of only eight outfits—combinations of three lighter skirts and one pair of Bermuda shorts, and four elbow-length shirts with buttons and one without—scuttling along the path from her beige half of a duplex to her beige library office, an umbrella blocking the sun from her exposed forearms and calves, a canvas bag of books she’d spent the night reading at her desk.