Fall 1990 • Vol. XII No. 4 Fiction |

Generations

When Michelle Coleman's mother, Nora Coleman, was bedridden and dying of cancer, she paid Michelle money to spy for her. Michelle was fifteen and on her way to becoming an artist like her father, but when her mother took the dollar bills from a drawer beside her bed and gave her daughter an assignment to carry out on her bicycle, Michelle put down the pad where she was working on a drawing of her mother in her new wig, much puffier and redder than her own real hair had been, and listened to her instructions. "Wear that," she said, pointing to a Russian sort of fur hat high up in her closet. "He won't recognize you." She placed a five-dollar bill in the girl's hand which—translated—meant a lot of incense Michelle would buy rather than steal from the local head shop. Her mother would have gone over in great detail how, as a spy, Michelle should conduct herself, if she hadn't then seen her own mother's Oldsmobile pull up beside the curb. Nora took an apple from a bowl of fr

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