The banging at the door was his excuse to turn awaysome people had their coats in thereand while he stood with his back to her she dressed again and unlocked the door and walked out. She smiled at the taunts and jeers of her friends and when someone asked, Wheres Mike? she said, I think I killed him, which got a great laugh.
Mike Shea became a medic during the war and was now married, working for Pfizer. To this day he cant look at her straight. To this day she cant quite convince herself that the sin was as grave as it seemed. (She thought, in fact, of telling the priest as he whispered his furious admonitions that she weighed barely a hundred pounds and was as thin as a boy and if he would adjust his imagination accordingly and see the buds of her breasts and her flat stomach and the bony points of her hips, he would understand that even buck naked, her body was not made for mortal sin.)
She cant quite convince herself, these ten years later, that anything at all like it will happen to her again.
She finished her sandwich, gave an extra quarter to the waitress, who also wore no wedding band, and headed back into the breach.
Excerpted from After This by Alice McDermott. Copyright © 2006 by Alice McDermott. Published in September 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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