When We Argued All Night

When We Argued All Night by Alice Mattison Read Free Book Online

Book: When We Argued All Night by Alice Mattison Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alice Mattison
Tags: Historical
to the road. She was quickly out of sight, but then he heard her shout. He put on his shoes and socks and followed. When he caught up to her, ten feet from the road, she was on the ground, saying, Don’t touch me, don’t touch me. She’d tripped and fallen headlong, breaking a fingernail and scraping her knees. Look what you did to me! she said. And I’m so cold! He helped her stand up and put on her sweater, still trying to explain what he’d meant. Now it was raining.
    â€”Will you stop it? she said. She said her foot hurt and leaned on him. In the rain and thunder, they began the slow walk back to the cabin. She wouldn’t talk, and Artie was freezing, but he didn’t care. Artie loved self-discovery, and he decided that he’d discovered something about himself when he’d noticed Virginia’s habit. He could tell people truths they didn’t know, and that would be fun. Artie Saltzman, he said to himself, you were born to teach.
    H arold swam back across the lake into the wind. His arms were tired, and he did the sidestroke instead of the crawl. As he stroked, he went back and forth between thinking it was the worst day of his life and thinking again that he was stupid. When he stumbled from the water, after a long, long time, the storm had ended and the sun was out. He saw no one. Then he noticed that the car was gone. He picked up his wet clothes and went inside in his dripping shorts. Artie was asleep on the sofa in the fetal position, his chin hidden in a blanket. It was not the worst day of Harold’s life. He was only stupid.
    He started to walk toward Artie in his clinging underwear, to kneel at his side and take him in his arms like a child, but stopped himself. In the bedroom, he put on dry clothes and a sweater. As he pulled his arms through the sleeves, he noticed a sheet of paper on the floor at his feet. It might have been left on the suitcase. He remembered that he had left the suitcase closed, but now it was open. The paper was a note, in large well-formed handwriting.
    Dear Harold,
    I’m sorry we have to go. Artie doesn’t know where you are, and Virginia is anxious to get on the road. I’m borrowing The Portrait of a Lady . You brought so many books, I guess you won’t mind.
    I enjoyed meeting you and hope you feel the same. Thank you for being kind when I was down in the dumps.
    Very truly yours,
    Myra Thorsten
    Under the name was a Manhattan address.
    A narrow stripe of rage, jagged like the lightning bolts that might have killed him just now, began in Harold’s stomach and traveled to his fingertips. He did not lend books. He had not brought too many books, whatever he’d said earlier. And The Portrait of a Lady was not only the book he was in the middle of but a valuable and important one. She had gone through his suitcase. The woman was unaware of anyone but herself. Yet underneath his anger—there was no time now to figure out how this could be—Harold felt something else: he was glad he’d have a chance to see Myra once more, to explain to her the many ways in which what she had done was wrong. Meanwhile, he walked into the living room. Wake up, he said. Wake up, damn you. It seemed he might cry.
    â€”What? Artie looked around, then dropped his head again and burrowed more deeply into the smelly sofa.
    â€”Wake up. Wake up, damn it. I just nearly died because of you.
    â€”What are you talking about? Artie said.
    â€”Where are those women? Harold said. What’d you let her take my book for?
    â€”What book? said Artie. They left. I had enough of those dames. Tonight we can sleep. At least they didn’t eat up all the eggs.
    He stood. He was in his underwear, and wet clothes were in a pile beside him. His suitcase was near the sofa, and he pulled out clothes and put them on. But we have to eat hot dogs instead of steak.
    â€”Don’t you realize what you did? Harold said, wondering what exactly Artie had

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