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"And Give You Peace" from Absent Without Leave by Jessica Treadway (Short Story)

"And Give You Peace" from Absent Without Leave by Jessica Treadway (Short Story)

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Published by OpenRoadMedia

In "And Give You Peace," the first short story in Jessica Treadway's compelling collection, two sisters meet for the first time after their father has killed their sister and himself.

The stories in Absent Without Leave hit with a force that will shake you, disturb you, and teach you the truths you do not already know. The tales are clear-eyed but deeply moving; the characters spring three dimensional and alive from her pages; the stories are dangerous and fearless and thus not sentimental. We are confronting life here, made vivid by art.

In "And Give You Peace," the first short story in Jessica Treadway's compelling collection, two sisters meet for the first time after their father has killed their sister and himself.

The stories in Absent Without Leave hit with a force that will shake you, disturb you, and teach you the truths you do not already know. The tales are clear-eyed but deeply moving; the characters spring three dimensional and alive from her pages; the stories are dangerous and fearless and thus not sentimental. We are confronting life here, made vivid by art.

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Jan 16, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/29/2013

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AND GIVE YOU PEACE
WHEN THE WAITRESS COMES, my sister asks her if they serve hamburgers inthis restaurant.“Well, we have the sirloin platter. Number Five,” the waitress says, leaningover to point at the menu.“What is that, basically?” Christine asks.“A hamburger.” Christine looks at me from under her bangs, and I can seeher eyelids rise. “I guess I’ll give that a try, then,” she says to the waitress, whose badge tells us her name is Nora.I order the lasagna and settle back in the dark red plastic of the booth we’vechosen, close to the window, with a view of a squat Manufacturers Hanover  branch across the street and Antonelli’s Pizza on the corner. This is the town wegrew up in, and nothing has changed since we moved out. Before our father andyoungest sister died, the four of us used to order take-out from Antonelli’s aboutonce a week, because our mother had left and taken the family’s cooking skill withher. Now Christine and I have not been to Antonelli’s for months. And I don’tknow about her, but I never even eat pizza anymore. The smell of the sauce is a physical memory—reminds me always, with a quick nauseous thump, of thosenights we spent hunched around the TV, eating slices straight out of the cartonwhile we watched reruns of “I Love Lucy” and “Get Smart,” which was our father’s favorite. He always used to get red stuff on his chin, laughing at Maxwhen he dialed the phone in his shoe.“It’ll be a year, soon,” Christine says casually, letting the ice in her water glass chink against her teeth. She’s right; and I guess I had been thinking about it, but not in the front of my mind, where things can hurt if 
 
you let them press for too long. I reach for a breadstick and rip off the cellophanewith a crackle, then split it and hand over half to my sister. “Thanks,” she says,and white crumbs fall down the front of her blouse.I pick up my fork and make little stabbing taps on the tablecloth. “I wishshe’d hurry up with the food,” I say, even though I know that if Nora actuallyappeared at that moment with our orders, it would be hard for me to swallow.This is the way they died: our father went into Meggy’s bedroom on a drizzly Julymorning, and shot her in the back of the head with a gun none of us had ever seen before. Then (all of this came from the police report afterward, when they hadtalked to Mr. Hausler next door) Dad walked around the house for a while andthen went outside to trim the rosebushes; but after he trimmed them he cut theroses off, too. Then he went back into his own bedroom and shot himself, puttingthe barrel of the gun to his head. Nobody heard anything, no gunshots, no screams,no bodies falling. Christine found our father when she got home from a party thatnight, and the police found Meggy when they came a few minutes later.It wasn’t until the next day that the police gave us the letter, which began:“By the time you read this, Meggy and I will be in a better place ...” The womanon the TV news said the letter was blood-spattered, but actually it was very clean,considering, with only a light trace of something reddish and pale on the topcorner. It was folded neatly, and originally it had been addressed to Liz-Christine-Meggy, but then the
 Meggy
had been crossed out and the sentence about the twoof them being in a better place had been scribbled at the top of the letter. I don’tknow where it is now. I suppose our mother got rid of it after the funeral, or the police have it somewhere as evidence.“How much do you think about it, now?” Christine asks me. She is fiddlingwith the cellophane the breadstick came in.

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