Excerpt from Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Our Souls at Night

by Kent Haruf

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
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  • First Published:
    May 2015, 192 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2016, 192 pages

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1

And then there was the day when Addie Moore made a call on Louis Waters. It was an evening in May just before full dark.

They lived a block apart on Cedar Street in the oldest part of town with elm trees and hackberry and a single maple grown up along the curb and green lawns running back from the sidewalk to the two?—?story houses. It had been warm in the day but it had turned off cool now in the evening. She went along the sidewalk under the trees and turned in at Louis's house.

When Louis came to the door she said, Could I come in and talk to you about something?

They sat down in the living room. Can I get you something to drink? Some tea?

No thank you. I might not be here long enough to drink it. She looked around. Your house looks nice.

Diane always kept a nice house. I've tried a little bit.

It still looks nice, she said. I haven't been in here for years.

She looked out the windows at the side yard where the night was settling in and out into the kitchen where there was a light shining over the sink and counters. It all looked clean and orderly. He was watching her. She was a good?—?looking woman, he had always thought so. She'd had dark hair when she was younger, but it was white now and cut short. She was still shapely, only a little heavy at the waist and hips.

You probably wonder what I'm doing here, she said.

Well, I didn't think you came over to tell me my house looks nice.

No. I want to suggest something to you.

Oh?

Yes. A kind of proposal.

Okay.

Not marriage, she said.

I didn't think that either.

But it's a kind of marriage?—?like question. But I don't know if I can now. I'm getting cold feet. She laughed a little. That's sort of like marriage, isn't it.

What is?

Cold feet.

It can be.

Yes. Well, I'm just going to say it.

I'm listening, Louis said.

I wonder if you would consider coming to my house sometimes to sleep with me.

What? How do you mean?

I mean we're both alone. We've been by ourselves for too long. For years. I'm lonely. I think you might be too. I wonder if you would come and sleep in the night with me. And talk.

He stared at her, watching her, curious now, cautious.

You don't say anything. Have I taken your breath away? she said.

I guess you have.

I'm not talking about sex.

I wondered.

No, not sex. I'm not looking at it that way. I think I've lost any sexual impulse a long time ago. I'm talking about getting through the night. And lying warm in bed, companionably. Lying down in bed together and you staying the night. The nights are the worst. Don't you think?

Yes. I think so.

I end up taking pills to go to sleep and reading too late and then I feel groggy the next day. No use at all to myself or anybody else.

I've had that myself.

But I think I could sleep again if there were someone else in bed with me. Someone nice. The closeness of that. Talking in the night, in the dark. She waited. What do you think?

I don't know. When would you want to start?

Whenever you want to. If, she said, you want to. This week.

Let me think about it.

All right. But I want you to call me on the day you're coming if that happens. So I'll know to expect you.

All right.

I'll be waiting to hear from you.

What if I snore?

Then you'll snore, or you'll learn to quit.

He laughed. That would be a first.

She stood and went out and walked back home, and he stood at the door watching her, this medium?—?sized seventy?—?year?—?old woman with white hair walking away under the trees in the patches of light thrown out by the corner street lamp. What in the hell, he said. Now don't get ahead of yourself.

Excerpted from Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. Copyright © 2015 by Kent Haruf. Excerpted by permission of Knopf. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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