In one way, everything that has happened has made you more like everyone else. Most Americans now begin their mornings by learning what Daddy has written overnight, and so do you. This morning, as on many others, you blink awake onto the day that God has made for you and for everyone else to discover that Daddy has written exactly what you told him not to.

Talking with the lawyers about suing the “writer” who does not know me or my daughter who says I had “sex” with my daughter. Disgusting!

It is, no question, thoroughly inappropriate for Daddy to be threatening a lawsuit this morning, given what has happened to the writer in question. Nobody would have even noticed the obscure, obscene work of fiction Daddy is referring to had he not directed their attention to it. Then there were days of chatter about whether Daddy even understood the difference between a work of fiction and a news article, days of excuses for everyone to make disgusting insinuations about you and Daddy, days when no one was talking about anything else. You can never tell whether this is what he intends or not, whether he is tugging the media’s leash or whether he and the media are both being tugged by something neither can control. Nor can you ever tell which of these you would prefer.

Then the writer was kidnapped by white supremacists claiming to be outraged on your behalf. As though you would ever ask for such a horrible thing to happen.

It’s true that this has taken some attention off what people had been yelling at you about before—the hijab your clothing line is providing to Muslim women who are being taken to protective centers—and you’re grateful for that. All that unfair sniping—that refusal to see that what you are doing is kind, tolerant, inclusive, an attempt to ensure that Muslim women can wear clothing that makes them feel comfortable, stylish, and in compliance with their religious principles, regardless of circumstances that Daddy says have made certain temporary measures necessary, temporary measures that, you have tried to make it clear to the press, you and your husband opposed—all that unfair sniping needed to go away. But what has replaced it is even worse, and Daddy’s apparent callousness will not help.

The wise thing for you to do would be the thing your public-relations people are pressing you to do: release a statement. Strange phrase, as though words are like balloons, things to be let go of so that they may be thoughtlessly consumed by air. It would be easy to demand that the White Blood Cells release Jonathan Ginsburg. Who knows, they might even obey you.

And yet you can’t bring yourself to release a statement, for reasons you find mysterious. It’s almost as though you are not yourself.

There are many other notifications on your phone—from the number of them it seems even more than usual has happened overnight—but you shut off your phone immediately, before you see anything other than this tweet, before you see any of the witticisms from “#TheResistance,” which as far as you can tell consists of people who resist Daddy by staring expectantly at their phones all day like they’re hoping to receive a message from God, but will settle for each other’s mediocre jokes.

Daddy has always had the best intentions; he has always wanted to keep you safe, just like he now wants to keep America safe.

Daddy, like God, is full of love, the truest kind of love: the kind that has to be interpreted. From time to time, you have thought that Daddy, even more than your husband, is the one who brought you to Judaism, to the God who must be read. Infinite mercy looks from the outside like cruelty and pettiness. Who except for God and Daddy would be unable ever to let even the tiniest thing go?

You reach for your watch, a recent product from your personal line. It’s beautiful, if you do say so yourself—and why shouldn’t you? Copywriting on your website describes this watch as “a gorgeous gold beacon to spur American women to press onward and achieve our dreams, just as Americans of a previous century were spurred by gold to press onward across the country and reach the Californian sea.”

6:12. Good.

If you check your email, there will probably be another message from the daughter of Jonathan Ginsburg, begging you to intervene. Say something, this girl will you implore you once again, do something, tell the people who have kidnapped my father to release him. Please stand up for what is decent.

Decent. Maybe if this girl were so concerned with what is decent, she should have discouraged her father from writing a pornographic (not to mention misogynistic) story about a father and a daughter, neither of whom he knows. Daddy was right to point that out: it matters that this man wrote something about two people he does not know.

Jonathan Ginsburg’s daughter seems to hope that you did not notice or do not remember the horrible articles she herself has written about you, the articles attacking you for standing by Daddy while he leads the country through a difficult time, the articles attacking the various business ventures attached to your name even though you publicly pledged to cede control of them before your father took office. This girl seems to hope that you didn’t notice or don’t remember that just a few weeks ago she called your watch “a tacky gold beacon to spur white women to waste money on expensive knock-off watches that don’t work and press onward in complying with the oppression of women of color, just as Americans of a previous century were spurred to kill indigenous people on their way to searching for gold that turned out to be fake.”

Of course you noticed, and of course you remember. Ever since you were a little girl whose parents were divorcing, the media has treated you with disdain, contempt, and invasion, and you remember every single piece of it.

This girl conspired with her father to write pieces that had no purpose except to humiliate you and Daddy. Their attacks on you were a repulsive, coordinated effort, you are sure of it, and there is a tiny part of you—a very tiny part, which will stay locked up in a tower in your soul—that believes this girl and her father are getting what they deserve.

Enough. You want your mind to create only positive energy. You want to see this girl reunited with her father.

You get out of bed to start your day, look out the window, at the view you have had all your life. Central Park, the best part of the city that Daddy worked so hard to win for himself so that he could give it to you.

You miss your husband and your children in D.C., but you have some meetings in New York later today, your own New York apartment in one of Daddy’s other buildings is undergoing renovations, and it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to feel like a princess in the tower again.

Snow is falling lightly on the bare branches, dusting them with white, making you think of the ski slope on that one afternoon so many years ago, making you think of these trees themselves, which you have always thought of as your trees. Daddy’s rage at the fact that a woman could be dragged and violated beneath your trees was why he took out that ad all those years ago demanding the execution of those boys. Daddy has always had the best intentions; he has always wanted to keep you safe, just like he now wants to keep America safe.

By keeping America safe, you remind yourself, he will keep your children safe.

Yes. He is misguided on the protective centers—his order, like so many of the orders he has given since taking office and like so many of the orders God has given since creating mankind, is confusing, and does not make clear to whom it applies, what they are being ordered to do, or why they are being ordered to do it—but he made his decision in good faith, because he loves America.

You and America have always been the same for him, in a way.

A prayer might be in order to start this day, a prayer for the safe return of Jonathan Ginsburg and the safe transport of those travelling to the protective centers. You are not supposed to ask for anything during your meditation, you are supposed to let the universe come to you and be part of you as it will, but the universe will absorb the love you feel even for those who have said terrible things about you.

You close your eyes and begin. When you became a Jew, when you started keeping kosher and keeping the lights off, you were certain it would bring you to God, to bring you closer to peace and oneness with the universe. And yet God still felt so far away. So you started Transcendental Meditation. That hasn’t brought you to God yet, either, but maybe it’s getting you there.

You say your personal mantra, and then you say it again.

Say the word again.

And again.

Thoughts intrude. Thoughts during meditation, you have been told, should be dispassionately observed and gently released—there’s that word again—not fought with or fussed over. So, okay, dispassionately observe and gently release these thoughts about Daddy musing on national television about how he’d like to have sex with you. “If she weren’t my daughter, maybe I’d be dating her.” Once, when you were sitting next to him on the sofa, under the same hot lights, he was asked what interests the two of you shared, and he responded: “sex.”

“Snowflake” is an insult that has been used against Daddy’s enemies, but you would like to be a snowflake.

Release the statement, a voice says, as clearly as if someone were whispering in your ear. Release the statement.

Noise in your head. Gently observe, dispassionately release.

An image fills the blackness in front of your closed eyes, an image you saw on the Internet yesterday or the day before, created by one of those trolls with one of those unpleasant green-frog avatars. Jonathan Ginsburg has been cut-and-pasted into a concentration-camp oven. Worse, you have been cut-and-pasted onto an image of a Nazi concentration-camp guard.

“This is what happens to those who insult our majestic White Princess!” the image was captioned.

What a violation, to use your image, the image of a Jew, in this anti-Semitic filth.

You think of the ski slope again, and this calms you, even though the ski slope is crowding your mind, not clearing it. You would like to think not of what happened on the ski slope, but of the snow itself. “Snowflake” is an insult that has been used against Daddy’s enemies, but you would like to be a snowflake, a nameless part of something bigger.

Repeat your mantra. Repeat the word until the word is the only thing in your mind. Repeat the word until Jonathan Ginsburg, until the statement, until the Twitter Nazis, until the little Muslim girls in your hijabs, until even Daddy, until everyone is gone.

Open your eyes, but not too wide. Look at Central Park again, take strength from the trees.

You get ready for the day, transform yourself into the powerful businesswoman that you are. From head to toe you clothe yourself in your personal line. The earrings are yours, the black button-front cold-shoulder dress is yours. Though they don’t quite go with the dress, you pick a pair of black boots that Jonathan Ginsburg’s daughter wrote “look like they were made in a Nazi factory near the end of the war, after the good supplies were gone.”

Your phone is still off, which makes you feel strong, healthy, new. Your phone is usually off only on Shabbos, when you have other kinds of knowledge to assimilate. The absence of information increasingly feels like a rare, soothing cream that you can rub into yourself, and yet also far more precious and well-making than that. Staying out of the sun is better than any lotion; so too is avoiding the Internet’s bright, peculiar light.

You check your watch. Your wrists are not looking their best; you should do more wrist exercises. It is still a few minutes before seven when you step onto the elevator.

The elevator door opens on to an assistant, who pulls out her phone to show you something. She does not have good news.

The White Blood Cells, the group that has kidnapped Jonathan Ginsburg, have set up a webcam to display him for all the world to see. He is being held in a kitchen, tied to a chair, duct tape over his mouth. A sign taped to his stomach reads “jew bastard will be executed at noon today, shoved into the oven where all jews belong.

There is terror in Jonathan Ginsburg’s dark eyes. Behind him are a photo of you, a clock, a plaque on which is written “Bless This Mess,” and, ominously, an oven.

An oven. Just like Sylvia Plath.

You used to admire Sylvia, until you had children. Sylvia killed herself while her children were in her apartment. You can never admire someone who did that.

“Ruth Ginsburg has made repeated requests to see you.”

Ruth Ginsburg. A stupid name. Given to the girl, no doubt, by parents who revere the judge popular among Daddy’s enemies, the judge who forfeited her objectivity during the campaign to criticize Daddy. Ruth must be young to have that name; she must have been born in the mid-nineties. About the age of your half-sister.

“Why would she want to see me? Shouldn’t she be talking to law enforcement?”

“She’s already spoken to law enforcement. She’s threatened to go on CNN and ask why you won’t intervene.”


“Yes. Should we release a statement?”

Release the statement.

“No, no statement. I’m going to go into my office now. I’d like not to be disturbed.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Technically, this office is not your office anymore, but everyone knows that once you enter a room, the room is yours.

The first thing you do is exactly what you should not do: turn on CNN, which is running footage of Muslims exiting buses and walking into protective centers, which the chyron has the nerve to call “camps.” Camps. Using that term is such an insult to all the victims of the Holocaust, including your husband’s relatives. If there was ever any doubt of media bias against Daddy, it should be gone now.

Many of the women do look quite good in your hijabs. Certainly, it gives them a degree of dignity they would not otherwise have in this unfortunate situation. You wish you could have talked Daddy out of the protective centers, but there is only so much you can do.

You are doing what you can.

Release the statement. Release the statement.

CNN cuts to a live feed of Jonathan Ginsburg, squirming in his chair. You shut off the television and tell your assistant to have Ruth Ginsburg brought to your office.

While you wait, you open your laptop and read Jonathan Ginsburg’s story again.

“You Know Who Has the Best Body, and I Helped Create Her?” The title is a cheap shot. Something Daddy said on the radio years ago, mangled, truncated, taken out of context. Everything he says is taken out of context by the media. Of course, that is how Daddy gives it to them, everything always out of context, for purposes or compulsions of his own. You are the only one who can put Daddy’s context back together.

The story itself is a grotesque farce about Daddy bending you over his desk in the Oval Office and fucking you from behind while delivering a televised address about how committing incest with you is the best way to “keep all the best genes together and preserve the white race.” Poorly written, didactic: terrible by any measure. From what you have read, “the literary community,” whatever that is, is having trouble defending such shoddy, repellant work, desperate though every writer in America is for the slightest reason to attack Daddy.

Ruth Ginsburg—hard to suppress a giggle every time you hear the name—is brought in, her dark eyes looking less bloodshot than you would expect, though it’s a little hard to tell since she won’t quite meet your gaze.

A woman in her situation demands respect, you remind yourself. And yet you cannot forget that she has taken every opportunity to attack you, to mock and belittle your efforts to craft clothing and accessories that will make women feel and project power and competence—as though there is any more important task you could undertake. This girl and her father have treated you, a serious Jewish woman, as a Nazi’s dumb daughter.

To respect someone is to accept her as she presents herself, and she has presented herself as your enemy.

Her hair is black and curly and long enough that you could instruct the Secret Service agent to use it to strangle her if you were in a mood to do so, and you are faintly curious as to whether the agent would comply. Ruth’s skin is a darkish olive, which makes sense since you’ve heard or read that her mother is Iranian. She is not unattractive, though her face is a bit horsey; you have thought so ever since she wrote that piece where she tried on your makeup and suggested it was unsatisfactory.

“Thank you for seeing me,” Ruth says.

You tell the Secret Service agent to stand on the other side of the door. He casts an uncomfortable glance at Ruth. You repeat your request, and this time it is followed. You tell Ruth to have a seat, and she does so haltingly, with trepidation, as though she believes that this chair, which has been sat in by more CEOs than you can count, is not good enough for her.

“I like your earrings,” she says.

“Do you? Then why did you once write that they look like ‘what would result if King Midas touched two coils of his own shit’?”

Ruth tries a smile, with uncertain results. “I haven’t been fair to you.”


“I’ve judged a lot of what you’ve done through how I feel about your father, rather than on its merits. And for that I am truly sorry.”

“People have always made assumptions about me because of my father. I’ve had to work a lot harder than most people to achieve what I have. My name has always been a handicap for me to overcome.”

Ruth visibly struggles not to visibly struggle. “I agree with you.”

You laugh. “No, you don’t. We’re not going to get anywhere if you lie. The American people are tired of lies. That’s why they elected my father.”

“But your father—” She stops herself.

“My father lies all the time? Is that what you were going to say?”

“You have to admit that he somewhat frequently says things that are verifiably false.”

“Like when he said that 1.5 million people attended his inauguration.”

It takes a long time for Ruth to nod, but she nods.

“1.5 million people may not have been physically present on the Mall, but that number suggested the enthusiasm of the American people. When your father says I fucked mine, he doesn’t mean that that literally happened; what he is saying is that there is something incestuous at the heart of our relationship. When my father and your father say things that aren’t true, they both think that they are revealing a deeper truth. The difference is that my father is right, and yours is wrong.”

“You and I both know what it’s like to grow up under—to grow up with a father who creates his own reality,” Ruth says. “We both know how suffocating that can feel. I don’t think you know how much you and I have in common. My father left my mother for a younger woman, too,” she says. “I was nine, around the same age you were when your father left your mother. Shortly after he moved out, my father took me out for an ice-cream soda. I hated both ice cream and soda. What’s more, he knew that, or he should have. When I was that age I talked all the time about how much I hated ice cream and soda, because I liked that hating ice cream and soda set me apart from other kids. But my father, the renowned storyteller, had this clichéd story in his head about how he was the good father taking his daughter out for an ice-cream soda, and he wanted me to play my part. And you know what? I slurped that ice-cream soda down. I don’t think I’ve ever consumed anything with so much alacrity. All that disgusting sugar was a small price to pay to lock down my father’s love.”

You have similar stories, of course. When Daddy left your mother, he was still living here in the tower, a few floors below you and your siblings and your mother, and every morning before school you went downstairs to give him a kiss so you wouldn’t lose him.

“Your mother is an immigrant, and so is mine,” Ruth says. “Immigrants are the heart of America, right? My mother’s family sent her to America when she was ten so she could be free of the Iranian revolution. She loved America. When she was in college she fell in love with her handsome professor because the stories he wrote about professors getting blowjobs from their students seemed so American to her. When she found out she was pregnant with me, she insisted on naming me after Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had just been appointed to the Supreme Court. My father did not like the name, and I’ve always been incredibly embarrassed by it. I’ve always wanted to get rid of the name, name myself something else. But my mother loved America and American law and the possibilities for women in America so much that she was dead set on giving me a name that would reflect that. My mother converted to Judaism for my father even though my father could not give less of a shit about Judaism. She raised me Jewish, even after the cheating asshole left her. I think she thought that staying Jewish would bring him back. Not that I can criticize her for that. The ice-cream soda thing was minor. Before and after my dad left, I read a million books to please him. I became a writer to please him. It’s like you and your dad, with real estate.”

You look out the window, at the snow and the buildings. You can’t see as much of Central Park as you could from the higher floor, but you can see enough of it.

“You want to know a secret?” Ruth asks.

Of course, like everyone else, you want to know a secret.

“I hate my father for writing that story.”

“He wrote it just to get under my father’s skin, didn’t he?”

The first thing you do is exactly what you should not do: turn on CNN.

“He wrote it to get under my skin. My pieces about you got much more attention than anything that he had written for years. When his story about you published, I was putting the finishing touches on a piece about the protection centers and your hijabs. It was going to change people’s minds, I think. Or maybe it would have had no effect at all. Anyway, now nobody is going to notice that piece, or anything else I’ll publish for the foreseeable future. I’ll just be the daughter of the guy who wrote that story about the president fucking his daughter. I hate him for that. I hate him the way you must hate your father for making your name synonymous with all these terrible things he’s doing. I hate my father for forcing me to admit that I care more about him, tied up in that kitchen, than I do about all the Muslims who are being herded into camps by your father. Those are my people. More importantly, they’re people. My father has forced me to admit what I least want to admit: that I care more about my own family than I do about people who are not my family. And yet I still love him.”

You have heard every word she has said, but you are still looking out the window. You’re thinking of that afternoon when you were racing Daddy on a ski slope, and you were gripping your poles, and you were ahead of him, you were so far ahead of him that for a moment you could imagine a place that was free of him entirely, where there was nothing but the snow and the sun, and then you felt his pole, pulling you back. The shock that he would cheat like this against his own daughter, the anger you felt at once again being against his body—you decided to let these feelings yield to the pleasure you took in the sensation of his fingers against your arm, to the pleasure you took in the sensation of safety.

You are interested in strategy and tactics, and if you dispassionately evaluate Ruth’s approach it was not a bad one. You can even acknowledge that she is offering you something you desire—connection. She would make a good entrepreneur. You can imagine yourself wanting to be her friend, or at least wanting to feature her on your website.

But what you feel towards her is rage. Rage more intense than any you can remember.

This girl is nothing like you, and it is outrageous for her to suggest otherwise.

You remain calm, you keep smiling. That is what you are known for.

“You still love your father,” you say, “even though he forced you to come here to grovel at my feet.”

Ruth’s smile turns, but only slightly.

“I wouldn’t say that. I’m sorry I got carried away just now. I would say that the situation has forced me to come talk to you. Person to person. Woman to woman. Daughter to daughter. Jew to Jew. I’m honestly grateful for that, though of course I wish we were meeting under different circumstances.”

“Excuse me, but it seems to me that you have come here to grovel at my feet. It seems to me that your father has forced you to take my boot in your face as a way of putting his boot in your face.”

You can always see on another woman’s face when your words have hit their mark.

“He’s obliged you to compromise your principles by coming here,” you say. “You hate me, you hate my father, you certainly hate what my father is doing to Muslims, and yet here you are, groveling like a dog. I’m surprised you would debase yourself for a father who wasn’t much of a father to you. But then, I suppose every woman adores a fascist.”

She looks like she gets the Sylvia reference, and she looks like she doesn’t like it. “My father is not a fascist. He’s an asshole. There’s a difference.”

Of course her father is a fascist. Every man is a fascist. Every man wants to spin the planet on his pinky. Daddy succeeds, which leaves every other man on earth with nothing to do but scream his name in anguish or adulation. That Ruth cannot or will not see this suggests there is less to her than you thought.

Savor your next question. Draw out the silence.

“Is my father a fascist?”

Her face crumples completely now. You both know that she has waited a very long time for the moment when she could hold her head up, look you in the eye, and tell you that your father is a fascist. Instead, she turns her eyes down to her lap.

“Your father is not a fascist.”

“I’m sorry? You were mumbling. Also, people in free societies tend to make eye contact when they speak to one another.”

With effort, she looks up.

“Your father is not a fascist.”

You stand up and cross to her side of the desk, so that she has no choice but to look up at you.

“That did not sound sincere,” you say.

“Your father is not a fascist.”

Better, but withhold your praise.

“I hope you’re right that my father is not a fascist. Because a fascist might use his executive authority to avenge an insult to his daughter. It’s not very clear whom the protective-center order applies to and whom it does not apply to, and a fascist might, say, decide not to be lenient in a borderline case of a Jewish convert born a Muslim, a naturalized American citizen born in Iran. A fascist might decide that such a woman should be sent to a protective center, if her daughter had repeatedly and egregiously insulted his own daughter.”

Ruth has not previously resembled her father very much, but the terror in her eyes now makes them look like his. You have never discussed this with Daddy, but you are fairly certain that he discovered the same thing: that creating terror feels more productive, feels like more of an accomplishment, than building a skyscraper.

“You wouldn’t—you wouldn’t have my mother sent to a camp.”

“A camp?”

“A protective center,” she says.

“I certainly wouldn’t. I opposed the protective centers. And if I’m right about my father—if I’m right that he is a kind, generous man who cares about people—then he would not have your mother sent to a protective center. If others are right about my father—that he’s a fascist—then who knows what he might do?”

She blinks at you, in stupid disbelief, the way everyone blinks at your family.

“I seem to have forgotten to zip up my boot,” you say.

She looks surprised, but the time for surprise has passed, and she realizes this quickly enough. Her demeanor is calm and submissive as she kneels at your feet.

“Your father is not a fascist,” she says. She takes your foot in her hand and she zips up your boot. Then she leans down and extends her tongue and licks the side of your boot. You did not ask her to do this, or at least you do not think you did, but you feel a shiver of approval throughout your body. This moment has happened and it will always have happened. This moment will always be there, standing between her and her father, between her and her mother.

A sensation of wellness floods you. What you feel is what you are looking for when you meditate. You can be yourself again.

“I will of course release a statement requesting your father’s safe return. I’ll film myself making the statement, to maximize its impact.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” you say. “My family is privileged to serve you, and to serve all Americans.”

There are tears in her eyes when she stands up. The moment is awkward now, and you would like her to be out of your sight. Sensing this, she scurries out the door, a sad, broken little woman. Never again will she have the temerity to disturb the princess.

You check your watch. 8:15. You call in assistants, who set up a camera and a video link. A makeup artist attends to you.

Now it is 9:00. You say a few words about mercy, about forgiveness, and then you get to the point.

“My father and I demand the safe release of Jonathan Ginsburg,” you say. “If he faces consequences for his defamation of us, he must face those consequences in a court of law, not in a poorly lit kitchen.” The kitchen is indeed poorly lit; if the White Blood Cells were going to put on a show like this, they might have at least staged it properly. Otherwise, the words are off-the-shelf, reminiscent of the way official speech in America sounded before Daddy transformed speech and America. People in the media still like to hear this kind of talk sometimes, since it helps them reassure themselves that things have not changed all that much. As for your other target audience, the White Blood Cells, they will understand your message: knock this off right now.

You thank your assistants and ask to be left alone again. It has been an exhausting morning. A massage this afternoon might be in order, or an extra meditation session. You turn on CNN on the wall across from your desk, but keep it muted. You’re not a masochist.

A split screen shows your video message on one side and a live feed of Jonathan Ginsburg on the other. You are annoyed with your makeup artist, who should have been more careful with the blush, and with the White Blood Cells, who by now have had almost half an hour to comply with your demand to release Jonathan Ginsburg and have not done so.

You have a few phone meetings; a lot of time passes. You flip the television back on and see that Jonathan Ginsburg is still in the kitchen, tied to the chair. It occurs to you that perhaps the White Blood Cells will not see your video message in time—or, worse, ignore it—and carry out the killing as announced. A horrific outcome. You don’t want that man’s death cluttering your thoughts. But the White Blood Cells will listen to you. They know that you are to be listened to.

CNN plays your message again. Inexplicably, the screen cuts to an image of a Muslim girl wearing one of your hijabs, being led by soldiers to a protective center. A hostile decision, to cut from your message to this shot. Another clear attempt by these producers to smear you.

Still, the girl looks adorable, in exactly the way you hoped when you had these hijabs designed. She looks lively, fun, and capable. Once the centers are no longer necessary and the girl is released—that word again—she will excel in any career she chooses, and look great doing it.

You are no racist. You want women of all races and faiths to succeed on their own independent terms.

There is a commotion on screen, and then it becomes clear that the girl has broken out of line and is running away. There is a look on her face of the purest determination, for the briefest instant that that face is visible on camera. Look at her arms and legs, so free, so purposeful. She just puts one foot in the mud and then another foot in the mud, and she is running, running, running. She’s away, out of the shot completely.

He used you during the campaign and he uses you still, to seem normal.

A couple of soldiers raise their guns, and you shut the television off. You look out the window, yet again, at the snow and the gray sky above the snow.

It’s possible that the girl is okay. The television is off and you did not see what came after what you saw, so it’s possible that the girl is okay.

You repeat that the girl is okay, and you keep repeating that the girl is okay as your body buckles slowly into sobs.

You sit back down, shut your eyes, and try to meditate.

Release the statement, a voice repeats in your head. Release the statement.

You wish Central Park was out of sight. Daddy’s persecution of those boys never had anything to do with protecting you, you have always known that. When he pulled you to him on the ski slope, he wasn’t pulling you to him, he was pulling himself past you. He used you during the campaign and he uses you still, to seem normal, to seem acceptable. You have helped the evil that has always surrounded you surround the world.

The White Blood Cells are not going to listen to you. They are going to kill this man. You are their princess, but nobody listens to a princess.

You know what you must do. You always have. Release the statement renouncing your father, the statement that you have never written down or spoken aloud but that you find yourself rehearsing in your head from time to time. Say you oppose your father in everything he does. Say that he must be removed. What you were thinking earlier about the similarities between God and your father: it was nonsense. God is love and your father is a vicious fool.

There’s a break in the clouds, and there is a bright light pushing from behind it. It is not the Muslim girl, of course it is not the Muslim girl, and yet the Muslim girl is with God, or she will be. You must choose between God and your father; you cannot love both. It is not fair that you face this choice, but nonetheless you face it.

You glance at your watch. 11:53. Every second that passes is a second that you could choose to step out of Daddy’s shadow and into the light of God, and a second that you choose not to.

For the next few minutes you do that most American of things: you wait for the knowledge of what you must do to recede so that you may continue doing what you would prefer to do. Moral knowledge is like the tide, and can be counted on to do no more than tickle one’s feet as long as you do not rush out to it and get swept away, as long as you just stand safely on the beach, open Instagram, share the soft sunset. You feel a bit like Sylvia, though instead of longing to kill yourself you feel the equally fatal impulse to do what you know is right. But unlike Sylvia, you intend to survive.

Focus on your breathing. On the feeling in your toes.

Maybe you are done with meditation.

Not wanting to turn on CNN and learn the fate of the Muslim girl, you open your laptop, still open to Jonathan Ginsburg’s story. In another tab, you find the live feed of Jonathan Ginsburg himself. It’s getting late, it’s almost noon, but he has a few more minutes.

There’s something different about his eyes. He is no longer struggling in his chair, no longer shifting at all. He must know he is about to die. You are not sure what he hoped to accomplish with his dirty story, but perhaps he dreamed of revealing to you what kind of man your father is and of what he had done to you.

As though that would come as a revelation to you. As though you have any less knowledge of who your father is—or for that matter, any greater willingness to tolerate him—than anyone else in this country.

As though this man would have anything to teach you.

Kill him, gas him, gas the filthy Jew, gas the motherfucker who questioned your right to fuck Daddy if you so choose.

You start to sob again, and you keep sobbing, and you feel, yes, release.

The truth is that you are nothing like everyone else. You are entitled to do anything you wish, even something as perverse as fucking your father or becoming a Jew. You are a vessel for Daddy’s blood and therefore the beating white heart of America.

Ruth will resume her fight against you. You know this. She will write, she will go on television. There will be a moment when she and people like her will win, and your name will be an unsayable thing of disgrace.

But that moment is not this moment, and this moment is the one that matters.

You glance at your watch. It says it’s 12:01, though the kitchen clock behind Jonathan Ginsburg’s head—next to that picture of you—says it’s 11:54. Shoddy work on the part of the White Blood Cells, to allow a slow clock in their shot.

The clock on your laptop says it’s 11:54. So does the clock on your phone. That would suggest that official satellite time is a few minutes behind the time on your watch. You should ask Daddy to talk to somebody about that. The time is what you say it is.