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The Geneva Convention: a three-part mini opera

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(Parties to the conflict shall ensure that burial or cremation of the dead, carried out individually as far as circumstances permit, is preceded by a careful examination, if possible by a medical examination, of the bodies, with a view to confirming death, establishing identity and enabling a report to be made.)

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*

"He loved you," Susannah tells me, and I tell her he loved her. You changed him, I say, and I flick my cigarette butt out into the snow.

And it's as if we want to get our stories straight, but she wants to talk about Gary, and I want Emma to know I'm crazy Aunt Melissa and I'm the one who bought her that car.

I wasn't there when they got married. Ellyn was, and she held Emma and later, she cried. I nodded like I got it. She stroked my back. "Does that bother you?" she asked. "Him getting married."

No, I said. I mean, I knew it was going to happen, I said. He loved her.

"He does," Ellyn said.

Susannah takes another cigarette, lights it off the butt. "Did it bother you?" she asks. "When Gary and I got married."

No, I say. I mean, he loved you. You changed him.

"You were his best friend," she says. "I was so jealous."

And then we're both quiet in Michael's bedroom window, because nobody's supposed to be jealous anymore.

Except that tomorrow, when everything's in order, she'll pack up the car I bought Emma for her first birthday, and she'll drive to New York. And years from now, when the car's been scrapped and Emma's grown up and she's flipping through pictures, she'll see me and Gary laughing and maybe she'll ask, and Susannah will say, oh, that's nobody, Emma. That's just someone your dad used to know.