I died at daybreak, between four and five.

My hands and feet were cold, as though someone had pulled gloves and wet stockings on them. The cold reached my heart, and my heart stopped. I felt like I’d sunk to the bottom of a well. I’d never been to the bottom of a well, but then, I’d never been dead either. My face stretched into a mask that I couldn’t control. Nothing hurt.

At eight o’clock I heard the shuffle of footsteps in the hall. It was Yuranya, my son, coming out of the nursery. Barefoot, I thought. He always walked barefoot, like a half-wild forest boy, and I always said, ‘Feet, Yuranya.’ He shuffled down the hall and stopped near his father’s room. My husband coughed and turned over. The door squeaked – Yuranya must have pushed it open – and he asked in an ingratiating whisper: ‘Are you up?’

The Dolphin of Amble
At the Auction of the Ruby Slippers