“Well, don’t say good-bye till you’ve had one of Elinor’s mice. Elinor’s blind mice. She wants you to. She likes you now. And don’t worry—I make sure she keeps her hands good and clean.” Nancy ate the mouse, and told Elinor that it was very good. Elinor consented to shake hands with her, and then Tessa did the same. “If he wasn’t dead,” said Tessa in quite a robust and reasonable tone, “why wouldn’t he have come here and got me? He said he would.” Nancy nodded. “I’ll write to you,” she said. And she meant to, truly, but Wilf became such a care as soon as she got home, and the whole visit to Michigan became so disturbing, and yet unreal, in her mind, that she never did. A SQUARE, A CIRCLE, A STAR One late summer day in the early seventies, a woman was walking around Vancouver, a city she had never visited before and so far as she knew would never see again. She had walked from her downtown hotel across the Burrard Street Bridge, and after a while found herself on Fourth Avenue. At this time Fourth Avenue was a street given over to small shops selling incense, crystals, huge paper flowers, Salvador Dali and White Rabbit posters, also cheap clothes, either bright and flimsy or earth-colored and as heavy as blankets, made in poor and legendary parts of the world. The music played inside these shops assaulted you—it seemed almost to knock you over—as you went by. So did the sweetish foreign smells, and the indolent presence of boys and girls, or young men and women, who had practically set up house on the sidewalk. The woman had heard and read about this youth culture, as she believed it was called. It had been in evidence for some years now and in fact was supposed to be on the wane. But she had never had to make her way through such a concentration of it or found herself, as it seemed, all on her own in the middle of it. She was sixty-seven years old, she was so lean that her hips and bosom had practically disappeared, and she walked with a bold gait, head thrust forward and turning from side to side in a challenging, inquisitive way. There did not seem to be a person within three decades of her age anywhere in sight.
A boy and girl approached her with a solemnity that nevertheless seemed slightly goofy. They had circlets of braided ribbon around their heads. They wanted her to buy a tiny scroll of paper. She asked if it contained her fortune. “Perhaps,” the girl said. The boy said, reprovingly, “It contains wisdom.” “Oh, in that case,” said Nancy, and put a dollar into an outstretched embroidered cap. “Now, tell me your names,” she said, with a grin that she could not suppress and that was not returned. “Adam and Eve,” the girl said, as she took up the bill and tucked it away in some part of her drapery.
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 230 pages?
- Spring '15
- Debut albums, 2005 singles, Carla, Alice Munro