In the Absence of Angels

In the Absence of Angels by Hortense Calisher Read Free Book Online

Book: In the Absence of Angels by Hortense Calisher Read Free Book Online
Authors: Hortense Calisher
way,” he said.
    Spanner nodded. He had begun to be sick of the word “remember”; it seemed as if everyone, including his self of the night before, was intent on poking up through the golden unsplit waters of his youth the sudden sharp fin of some submerged reality, undefined, but about to become clear.
    “They were a nice bunch of fellows in our time,” said Spanner.
    “You know …Davy ...” Anderson said. His voice trailed off. The fellow was apologetic; in his straight blue look there was a hint of guilt, of shame, as if he too, the previous night, had half dreamed and pondered, but unlike Spanner had met the dark occupant of his dreamings face to face.
    “I wanted them to take you in,” Anderson said. “A few of us together could have pushed it through — but all the others made such a God-damned stink about it, we gave in. I suppose you heard.” He looked at Spanner, mistaking the latter’s unresponsiveness for accusation perhaps, and went on.
    “If we hadn’t all been so damned unseeing, so sure of ourselves in those days ...” He broke off. “Ah well,” he said, “that’s water over the dam.” And grasping Spanner’s shoulders, he looked down at him in an unsteady bid for forgiveness, just before he released him with a brotherly slap on the back, and turned away, embarrassed. Standing there, it was as if Spanner felt the flat of it, not between his shoulder blades, but stinging on his suddenly hot cheek — that sharp slap of revelation.

The Woman Who Was Everybody
    A T A QUARTER OF eight, young Miss Abel was prodded out of sleep as usual by the harsh clanging of the bell in the church around the corner. It went on for as much as forty or fifty times, each clank plummeting instantly into silence, as if someone were beating iron against a stone. She did not get up at once, but lay there, seeing herself rise with the precision of a somnambulist, go from bathroom to kitchenette in the blind actions which would dissolve the sediment of sleep still in her eyes, in her bones. In her throat, a sick resistance to the day had already begun its familiar mounting, the pulse of a constant ache on which sleep had put only a delusory quietus. Lying there, she wondered which unwitting day of the past had been the one on which she must have exchanged the bright morning dower of childhood, that indolent assurance that the day was a nimbus of possibilities, for this heavy ache that collected in the throat like a catarrhal reminder that as yesterday was dusty, so would be today.
    There had been nothing in her childhood, certainly, to warrant that early dowered expectancy, nothing in the girlhood spent in her mother’s rooming house near that part of the Delaware River consecrated to the Marcus Hook refineries, where the great fungoid tanks bloomed oppressively over all, draining the frontal streets like theirs, which were neither country lanes nor town blocks, but only in-between passageways where the privet died hardily, without either pavement or neon to console one for its death. In that bland, unimpassioned climate the days had been blurred exhalations of the factories, the river and the people, dragging on into a darkness that was like the fainter, sooted, interchangeable breath of all of these. Perhaps the days had rung with expectancy for her, nevertheless, because from the first, for as long as she could remember, she had been so sure of getting out, away. As, of course, she had.
    She swung sideways out of bed and clamped her feet on the floor, rose and trundled to the bathroom, the kitchenette. Boiled coffee was the quickest and most economical; watching the grounds spray and settle on the bubbling water, she took comfort from the small action. Everywhere in New York now toasters clicked, clocks rang, and people rising under the weight of the new day took heart from each little milestone of routine, like children, walking past a strange paling, who touch placatingly every third picket, hoping this will

Similar Books

Please Remember This

Kathleen Gilles Seidel

Broken Glass Park

Alina Bronsky

Through the Window

Diane Fanning

Playing With Fire

Sean Michael

Share You

Rene Folsom