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As God is my witness, the words I write to you are indeed truthful. I believe that I know the truth very well, but I know of no one who truly knows what the composition of it is. Who knows what is imagined and what is real? Our memories, with their limitations, contain all we are and all we know. We remember, and we know. We know, and we remember. And I remember so many things and forget so many others.

Mine is the story of the transformation of a country girl into a modern woman, the recollection, and retrospection of painful and forgotten memories, and the assimilation of the knowledge and the wisdom of the past. A new memory becomes alive within my brain with each passing second, and every day I remember and understand even more.

I remember the day when the blood on my hands, face, and chest mixed with my sweat, which caused a nauseating smell to perfume my once unstained dress. Jagged rocks tore the once elegant lace of my mid-Victorian blouse, and soot blackened my once beautiful red hair. I stood on Market Street, and I cried and felt so dreadfully alone while I heard the sounds of thousands of women and children as they screamed and shed their loud tears of distress.

The vociferous sounds of the city permeated the air, and disaster was everywhere. There were people trying to run away from the stench of the ash and smoke, fearful of yet another building falling, as hundreds, perhaps thousands, had fallen that day. One of those buildings nearly fell on me as it crumbled, but I narrowly escaped death and successfully evaded the numerous bricks that rained down that day. My hands bled as I pushed away the sharp debris that tumbled over my head. If it did not fall, then it burned, it seemed. Old San Francisco died that April day in 1906.

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