He takes the telegrams from the glove compartment and rifles through them until he finds the ones hes looking for. A sudden wave of nausea makes him lean back in the drivers seat and close his eyes. Which hearts break harder, wives or mothers? The question has no answer. Misery cannot be weighed on a scale. He slips the envelopes into his pocket, gets out of the truck, and starts toward the pond.
Awful as the day is, Sam Shaker never regrets volunteering for the job, though it costs him business, not just during the hours the store is closed that afternoon, but for years to come. People still like him. They admit he carries a good line of products. But certain men and women in town cannot walk into the store and see him behind the counter without remembering the day the bell rang, and they went to the door and opened it to find him standing there with a telegram in his hand. For a while they feel guilty going to A & A Hardware two blocks away. Eventually they get used to it.
Excerpted from Next to Love by Ellen Feldman. Copyright © 2011 by Ellen Feldman. Excerpted by permission of Spiegel & Grau, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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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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