It is the fourth morning of Ida Mae’s hospital stay. She is trying to seem as alert and cooperative as possible so that she can stay one step ahead of Fern Chalmers.
Under ordinary circumstances, this would not be a problem. Ida Mae’s critical skills are as pointed as shark’s teeth, and as capable of drawing blood; but these are not ordinary circumstances. Her condition presents her with a gross and undeniable impediment: it exhausts her, and makes anticipating Fern’s moves a difficult task, at best.
But there is another, more disturbing obstacle to her ability to second-guess the condescending and possibly dangerous Dr. Chalmers. Since Edna Glick’s ghost has arrived, Ida Mae is no longer as sure of her own sanity as she was. Even now, as Ida Mae thanks Fern for calling Lisa, Edna Glick sits steadfastly in the corner of the room like a lump of cold potato kugel, wearing the same favorite outfit—long, white T-shirt with brightly colored satin appliqués of fuchsia, purple, and gold on the shoulders, white cotton pants, and gold lamé flats—she wore on the ill-fated flight to Miami. Her arms are still adorned with Nana’s heavy gold link bracelets, and her earlobes are drawn down by a pair of large gold studs. Her hair rises around her head in a halo of strawberry Styrofoam curls, and her arms remain crossed over a chest inflated by a groundless, yet wondrously self-perpetuating sense of self-worth. That self-assurance was always enough to fill Ida Mae with insecurity, but the fact that it is now coming from a dead person makes her feel more insecure than ever.
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