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"We believe our affliction began with [a blurred, smudged photograph, a girl doubled]. She became a wife who became a mother who became the first of us to go...When our affliction came for a minute she was here, as solid and real as any of us, the next her body faded, faded until she vanished into the clouds."
Vera, our narrator, described her isolated village, located in "the narrow aperture between mountains [where] everyday at dusk the clouds appeared, gathering out of nothing and thickening..." A village set apart. Anywhere else was elsewhere. Schoolgirl Vera, was in a hand-holding "threesome" with Di and Marie. It was expected that when they became "uppers" in school, marriage and motherhood would soon follow. Being a mother was a slippery slope, a new identity subject to the scrutiny and the judgement of others, gossip included.
"When a mother went...we sensed it...the clouds that took her touched us all...we felt her vanishing...". A full town ceremony ensued, the mother's existence erased. Why was this mother chosen? What was "out of balance in the nature of her love for her children that set her apart?" Did the mother love too intensely? Was she indifferent toward her children? " was impossible to predict what motherhood would bring out of a woman, what it would show her about herself..." How was Vera's mothering of her five year old daughter Iris being perceived? Her concern was heightened because her own mother had been disappeared.