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Enough of Sorrow by Lawrence Block — Writing as Jill Emerson {An Excerpt}

Enough of Sorrow by Lawrence Block — Writing as Jill Emerson {An Excerpt}

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Published by OpenRoadMedia
One girl’s journey toward self-discovery and sexual freedom
One girl’s journey toward self-discovery and sexual freedom

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Feb 25, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The girl’s name was Karen Winslow.She was tall and slender, with dark brown hair and eves just a shade lighter. She wasnot a beautiful girl. Her jawline was too hard, her nose a little too long. But she mighthave been pretty. Prettiness does not depend upon perfect features. If she had held herself  properly, It her step were firm, if her eyes were bright and her lips curled in a smile, shewould have been pretty. She had been pretty in the past, so gently pretty as to seem quite beautiful at first glance.She was not pretty now. Her pale lips were a straight line and her eyes were dull,almost opaque. Her whole body sagged as she walked, as though she were literallydragging herself through the grayness of the afternoon. She neither looked nor felt pretty.At the corner of Second Avenue and Fifth Street she stopped and leaned against theside of a weathered brick building. She couldn’t seem to catch her breath. She breatheddeeply, closed her eyes, exhaled, took another breath, let it out, opened her eyes again.She was dizzy and she thought she was going to fall down or be sick or both. She wanteda cigarette badly. She fumbled through her purse, found a pack of cigarettes. It wasempty. She stood there, still leaning against the building, and she held the empty cigarette pack in her hand and stared at it for a full minute. A woman stopped pushing a shoppingcart long enough to ask her if something was wrong.“Wrong?” She wanted to laugh. “No,” she said slowly. “Nothing’s wrong, only my pack is empty, that’s all.”The woman started to say something, then changed her mind. Karen crumpled the pack slowly and let it fall to the sidewalk. There was a drugstore on the other side of Second Avenue. At the tobacco counter she asked for a pack of Marlboros. The clerk gave her a pack and took half a dollar from her and gave her a dime.She remained in front of the counter while she opened the pack. She removed four cigarettes, put one between her lips and dropped the other three into her purse.“I won’t need the rest of these,” she said.The clerk looked at her.“I’ll probably only smoke one or two,” she said. “Four at the very most. So I won’tneed the others.”“We don’t sell ’em one at a time, honey.”“Oh, I know,” she said quickly. “I didn’t want a refund or anything.” She pushed the pack across the counter to him. “It’s just that I won’t need these,” she said. “You keepthem. Smoke them yourself if you want. Or give them to somebody.”She left him standing there with an uncertain look on his face. She walked out of thedrugstore and headed downtown on Second Avenue, the cigarette still hanging unlit fromher lips. Halfway down the block she remembered the cigarette and stopped in a doorwayto light it. The third match worked, and she drew smoke into her lungs and felt dizzy andnauseous all over again. She swayed, then shook off the feeling and began walking oncemore.
 At the corner of Stanton Street she stopped to toss the cigarette into the gutter. Shelooked across the broad avenue and scanned the block for the building where she hadlived so long. But it was gone, it and the tenements on either side. Now there was a vasthole in the ground where the buildings had been, and soon, according to a large sign,there would be a housing project erected on the site.She closed her eyes and remembered the building, remembered their apartment on thefifth floor. A drab, joyless building, a cold and sterile apartment of three small rooms anda kitchenette, cracked plaster, cooking smells in the rooms and stale beer smells in thestairwell. How long had she lived there?When she was six they had moved there from another apartment she could not recallat all. And they had moved out five years ago, and she was twenty-two now. Eleven yearsin that apartment, and now it was gone, the whole building gone.She lit another cigarette. There were two left in her purse now. She gazed again at theempty lot. Everything was gone now, she thought. Her father had died in that apartment,and she and Ted and her mother had moved out while his coughing still echoed againstthe walls. And then her mother died in their new apartment in Parkchester, and now Tedwas somewhere in the South—Texas, Louisiana, Fort Something-Or-Other, drafted and packed and gone. Gone, gone, gone, everyone, everything. The family, the building,everything gone, and she was alone and lost. Now Ronnie was gone, too.She closed her eyes and tried to bring his image into focus. But it was blurred, fuzzyaround the edges, elusive as childhood memory. Only the lips, curled in a smile that wasnot a smile at all.“I think this is where I get off, Karen. But don’t think it hasn’t been fun…”She had cried, and he had left, and then her tears stopped and since that time she hadnot cried at all.She dropped the cigarette and crushed it underfoot She had only taken a few puffs onit and she decided that it did not matter—she had two left and two would be more thanenough. She turned away from the empty lot where she had lived once, went another  block down Second Avenue, turned again on Rivington Street.The candy store was still here. She looked in through the fly-specked window for Mr.Reuben, but Mr. Reuben was gone and a Puerto Rican with a bushy black moustachestood behind the counter. All of the stools were empty. She opened the door and wentinside and ordered a chocolate egg cream. That was what she had always ordered at Mr.Reuben’s store. The man made her an egg cream and she looked at it for a moment, thentasted it. She tried to remember whether or not it tasted the same as egg creams had tasted before and it seemed very important to know whether it did or not. And then she decidedthat it wasn’t important at all. She paid a dime for the egg cream and put it downunfinished.“I don’t need this,” she said. “There’s nothing wrong with it, you see, but I just don’twant it, that’s all.”The man did not understand. He said something in Spanish, and she looked at hisdark eyes and bushy moustache and turned and fled.

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