Saint Maybe

Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler Read Free Book Online

Book: Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler Read Free Book Online
Authors: Anne Tyler
Tags: Fiction, Literary, Psychological, Family Life
don’t you let on you feel otherwise, young man, or you’ll be grounded for life and I mean it.”
    The front door opened and she spun around. “Doug?” she called.
    “Here, sweetheart.”
    “Well, thank the Lord! You’ve got fifteen minutes to dress. Did you forget we were invited to the Finches’?”
    When Ian passed through the hall on his way out, he sent his father a commiserating look.
    It was near the end of March, that period when spring approaches jerkily and then backs off a bit. The light was hanging on longer than it had a week ago, but a raw, damp wind was moving in from the north. Ian zipped his jacket and turned up the collar. He circled a group of Waverly Street children playing hopscotch—bulkily wrapped little girls planting their feet in a no-nonsense, authoritative way down a ladder of chalked squares. He performed a polite minuet with one of the foreigners, dodging right, then dodging left, till the foreigner said, “Please to excuse me,” and laughed and stepped aside. Ian nodded but he didn’t stop to talk. Talking with the foreigners could tie up half the evening, what with that habit they had of meticulously inquiring after every possible relative.
    By the time he reached Jeffers Street, dusk had fallen. The windows of Danny’s house glowed mistily, veiled by sheer white curtains. Ian rang the doorbell and then knocked, to show he was a man in a hurry. The sooner Lucy got going the sooner she would be back, he figured.
    He had expected her to look shamefaced at the sight of him. (Surely she knew she hadn’t played straight, going behind his back to his mother.) But when she opened the door, she just said, “Oh, Ian! Come in. I really do appreciate this.” Then Thomas and Agatha hurtled toward him from the living room, both wearing footed pajamas. “Ian!” they shouted. “Did you bring Cicely? Where’s Cicely? Mama said maybe—”
    “Let him catch his breath,” Lucy told them. She was putting on her coat. She wore a red turtleneck and long, loose woolen pants that gave the effect of a skirt. It seemed unjust that she should be so pretty. “My friend Dot phoned at the very last minute,” she said. “I know it’s a Saturday night, but I thought maybe if you invited Cicely over—”
    “She has to stay with her brother,” Ian said bluntly. He stood in front of her with his fists in his jacket pockets. “I’m supposed to go to
her
house. I promised I’d be there at eight-thirty.”
    “Oh, well, that’s no problem. Right now it’s—” She slid back a sleeve and checked her watch. “Six-forty. I’ll tell Dot I have to be in early. Remember Dot? From the Fill ’Er Up Café?”
    “Yeah, sure,” Ian said heavily.
    But she didn’t seem to catch it. She was looking for something. “Now, where …” she said. “Has anyone seen my keys? Well, never mind. You be good, kids, hear? And you can stay up till I get back.” Then she left, shutting the door behind her so neatly that Ian didn’t even hear the latch click.
    In the living room, Daphne sat propped in her infant seat in front of the TV. “Hey there, Daph,” Ian said, shucking off his jacket. The sound of his voice sent her little terry-cloth arms and legs into unsynchronized wheeling motions. She craned around till she was looking up into his face and she gave him a lopsided smile.It was sort of flattering, really. Ian squatted to pick her up. He felt as surprised as ever by the fight in her—the wiry combativeness of such a small body. Even through the terry cloth, the heat from her tiny armpits warmed his fingers.
    “Ian,” Thomas said, “
why
don’t you come over anymore?”
    “Now we got no one,” Agatha said, “and Mama called Mrs. Myrdal and begged and pleaded but Mrs. Myrdal hung up on her.”
    “Are you mad on account of I beat you at Parcheesi last time?” Thomas asked.
    “Beat me!” Ian said. “That was just a fluke. The merest coincidence. Bring on the board and I’ll prove it, you young

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