Helpless Comprehension

“Grigory Perelman happens to think I’m a genius.”

Olia Mishchenko, untitled, from The Expanded Gardens of Locus Solus (detail). 2013, pen and ink on paper. 30 × 88". Courtesy of the artist.

As long as the Verrazano remained in sight, Darya was forthcoming, telling her dad all about the ID-card policy announced at school and the air-monitor men walking the halls in hazmat suits, but once their Mitsubishi Diamante veered off the highway, an exit short of a bridge that symbolized freedom yet led to Staten Island, she cut off abruptly. What did she expect? He’d never say, How about we forget this new form of torture Mama’s devised for you and go get Di Fara’s instead? No, he diligently chauffeured to doom. If given orders to drive off a cliff, provided the GPS could locate one and he managed to follow instructions, would he refuse?

After getting off the Belt, it was a matter of several quick turns and one long stoplight (staring with pained intensity at the red glow) before they came to a halt in front of a building the shade of post-borscht poop. How badly Darya wanted to hold on to her stoicism. What dignity it offered. But a violent spasm sent her thrashing—how unfair this was! This was her one free night of the week! Mama hadn’t even asked her! Her dad might sympathize. Neither was his life working out ideally—instead of unwinding after work with his favorite TV show, Extreme Engineering, he was saddled with dropping her off in Bensonhurst, going to Costco for a tub of cottage cheese, and picking her up two hours later.

“Two hours!” she wailed.

He reached over her and opened the door. The cargo had to unload herself. “Davai,” he said, “Costco close soon.”

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