A Family Man

In: English and Literature

Submitted By hossa
Words 3649
Pages 15
A FAMILY MAN by V. S. PRITCHETT from Bradbury, Malcolm, ed. The Penguin Book of Modern British Short Stories. New York: Penguin. 1988.

Late in the afternoon, when she had given him up arid had even changed out of her pink dress into her smock and jeans and was working once more at her bench, the doorbell rang. William had come, after all. It was in the nature of their love affair that his visits were fitful: he had a wife and children. To show that she understood the situation, even found the curious satisfaction of reverie in his absences that lately had lasted several weeks, Berenice dawdled yawning to the door. As she slipped off the chain, she called back into the empty flat, 'It's all right, Father. I'll answer it.'
William had told her to do this because she was a woman living on her own: the call would show strangers that there was a man there to defend her. Berenice's voice was mocking, for she thought his idea possessive and ridiculous; not only that, she had been brought up by Quakers and thought it wrong to tell or act a lie. Sometimes, when she opened the door to him, she would say, 'Well! Mr. Cork', to remind him he was a married man. He had the kind of shadowed handsomeness that easily gleams with guilt, and for her this gave their affair its piquancy.
But now - when she opened the door - no William, and the yawn, its hopes and its irony, died on her mouth. A very large woman, taller than herself, filled the doorway from top to bottom, an enormous blob of pink jersey and green skirt, the jersey low and loose at the neck, a face and body inflated to the point of speechlessness. She even seemed to be asleep with her large blue eyes open.
'Yes?' said Berenice.
The woman woke up and looked unbelievingly at Berenice's feet, which were bare, for she liked to go about barefoot at home, and said, 'Is this Miss Foster's place?"
Berenice was offended by…...

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