by Sheldon Kranz
Part 3 -
Joe looked at Martha sitting in the corner of the sofa with the
cigarette between her long tan fingers and the highball in front of
"Won't you stay?" he asked.
"We'll eat in," Dorothy
said. "We'll eat in if you like."
Martha looked at the two of them for a long moment. Then the doorbell
"I'll take it," Dorothy
said, and went slowly into the hall.
"Thought we'd pay a Sunday
afternoon call," the young man at the door smiled. "Busy?"
"Oh, hello," she said, after
a moment, and remembered to smile back. "Come in. It's Steve and
Betty," she called in to Joe. "Come in and have a drink."
They walked into the living room. "We thought you might be out," the
young woman said. "The weather is so—" She stopped when she saw
For a moment, Dorothy couldn't quite form the words. "This is Martha
Reed," she said, weakly. She turned to Martha and stopped,
The cigarette and the
highball had disappeared. Martha was sitting on the edge of the sofa,
her thin body stiff against the soft blue pillows. Her brown hands lay
stupidly in her lap, the palms turned upward, as if she found them
completely useless. Her feet were stuck out awkwardly in front of her
like a person unused to the comfort of a low couch. Even the expression
on her face was different. It wasn't Martha.
Dorothy managed to say, "This is Mr. and Mrs. Crane."
"How do," Martha said, and bobbed her head at them.
"Martha is an old friend," Dorothy went on, shrilly. "She's—"
"Ah'm an old friend of the
family," Martha grinned at the couple. "Used to wuk for 'em. Thought
ah'd run up and see how things wuz."
"How nice," the young woman
said, and peered at Martha's carefully tailored suit.
Martha got clumsily to her
feet. "Ah think ah'll go now, Miz Randolph."
"No," Dorothy said.
"Ah best run along," Martha
repeated, grinning. "May ah have my things?"
Joe went into the bedroom
and brought out Martha's hat and coat. Dorothy smiled wildly at the
"Ah'm sure glad to have met you all," Martha said, and jabbed her head
again at each of them. "Goodbye, Miz Randolph." She started for
Dorothy just stood there and
watched her go slowly out of the room. Then from a long way off, she
heard herself cry, "Martha—" and she was running after her into the
They faced each other across
an immense distance in the dim light coming from the other room. There
was a tightness in Dorothy's throat that made it difficult for her to
"It would have been so hard
to explain," Martha said, softly in her own voice. "It was easier this
Dorothy felt herself
trembling. In a sudden fury of rage and humiliation, she grabbed Martha
by the shoulders and began shaking her desperately.
"I wasn't ashamed," she
pleaded. "I wasn't."
to Part 2
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