Summary: Chapter 1

Elaine’s brother Stephen once told her that time is a dimension, like space, and that it’s theoretically possible to travel through it. She imagines time like different transparencies laid on top of each other, with nothing ever lost.

Summary: Chapter 2

Elaine remembers riding the streetcar with her friend Cordelia at the age of thirteen. Elaine and Cordelia like to judge the outfits older women wear. Their favorites are the old women who wear too much makeup and brightly colored clothes because they appear not to care what other people think.

Elaine considers her present, middle-aged self. She realizes that the old women she so admired may actually have been unable to see what they looked like. Even with age, she cares a lot about her outward appearance.

Elaine’s thoughts turn to Cordelia, wondering what would happen if they were to reunite. She imagines an aging Cordelia and realizes that it’s easier for her to think about Cordelia in dire straits: homeless, in a coma, or in an iron lung.

Summary: Chapter 3

Elaine hates Toronto, and she moved to British Columbia to get away from it. She now has a second husband, Ben, and two daughters, Sarah and Anne. An artist of some success, Elaine has returned to Toronto for a retrospective of her paintings at a woman-run alternative gallery called Sub-Versions. Her first husband, Jon, has offered to let her stay at his studio while she is in Toronto.

Elaine notices a poster advertising her retrospective. Someone has drawn a mustache on the photo of her. Perhaps becoming a face worthy of graffiti means she has become someone worth defacing.