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An Excerpt from Hadassa Photograph by Olivia Joy St. Claire.

An Excerpt from Hadassa

Translated by Melissa Bull.

I’D TWISTED MY BRAID INTO A BUN and I was wearing a dark dress that covered my ankles. I was dressed according to the regulations the contract stipulated, which excluded blouses without sleeves, skirts above the knee, trousers, shiny fabrics or close-fitting clothes. Nervous, I held myself straight and kept my arms rigid alongside my body. Around me twirled, approached and spun away hundreds of little girls in navy uniforms who examined, in turn, in pairs, in groups, my dress and my pewter bracelet, returning my shy smile before going back to play, and then darting forward again to observe me. I had been warned beforehand not to have any illusions: I would never be my students’ friend or confidant.

My colleagues and I waited elbow-to-elbow against a beige brick wall bathed in the noontime sunlight. Troubled by the high pollen count, Madame Sauvé wiped her nose repeatedly on ...

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