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Excerpt from "Someone" by Alice McDermott. Copyright 2013 by Alice McDermott. Reprinted here by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All rights reserved.

Excerpt from "Someone" by Alice McDermott. Copyright 2013 by Alice McDermott. Reprinted here by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All rights reserved.

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Published by wamu8850
Excerpt from "Someone" by Alice McDermott. Copyright 2013 by Alice McDermott. Reprinted here by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All rights reserved.
Excerpt from "Someone" by Alice McDermott. Copyright 2013 by Alice McDermott. Reprinted here by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All rights reserved.

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Published by: wamu8850 on Sep 05, 2013
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02/09/2015

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P
egeen Chehab walked up from the subway in the eve ninglight. Her good spring coat was powder blue; her shoes were black and covered the insteps of her long feet. Her hat was beige with something dark along the crown, a brown featheror two. Tere was a certain asymmetry to her shoulders. She hada loping, hunchbacked walk. She had, always, a bit of black hairalong her cheek, straggling to her shoulder, her bun coming un-done. She carried her purse in the lightest clasp of her fingers,down along the side of her leg, which made her seem listless and weary even as she covered the distance quickly enough, the gray sidewalk from subway to parlor floor and basement of the housenext door.I was on the stoop of my own house, waiting for my father.Pegeen paused to say hello.She was not a pretty girl particularly; there was a narrownessto her eyes and a wideness to her jaw, crooked teeth, wild eye-brows, and a faint mustache. She had her Syrian father’s thick 
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ALICE M
 
 ALICE Mc
DERMOTT
 
DERMOTT
dark hair, but also the permanent scattered flush, just under thefair skin, of her Irish mother’s broad cheeks. She had a job inlower Manhattan in this, her first year out of Manual raining,and, she said, she didn’t like the people there. She didn’t like asingle one of them. She ran a bare hand along the stone balus-trade above my head. Te other, which lightly held the strap of her purse, wore a dove- gray glove. She’d lost its partner some- where, she said. And laughed with her crooked teeth. Fourthpair this month, she said. And left the library book she was reading on the subway  yesterday. And look, tore her stocking on something.She lifted her black shoe to the step where I sat andpulled back the long coat and the skirt. I saw the laddered run,the flesh of Pegeen’s thin and dark- haired calf pressing throughbetween each rung. Te nail of the finger Pegeen ran over itslength was bitten down to nothing, but the movement of herhand along the tear was gentle and conciliatory. A kind of sym-pathy for her own flesh, which I imitated, brushing my ownhand along the unbroken silk of Pegeen’s stocking, and thenover the torn threads of the run.Amadan,” Pegeen said. “Tat’s me. Tat’s what I am.”She pulled the leg away. Te skirt and the blue coat fell intoplace again. Across the back hem and up the left side of Pegeen’sgood spring coat there was a long smudge of soot that I impul-sively reached out to brush away. “You’ve got some dirt,” I said.Pegeen turned, twisted her chin around, arm and elbow raised, trying to see what she couldn’t see because it was behindher. “Where?” she said.“Here.” I batted at the dirt until Pegeen threw back her headin elaborate frustration, pulling the coat forward, winding itaround her like a cloak. “I’ll be happy,” she said, slapping at her
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SOMEONE
 
SOMEONE
hip, “to stop going to that filthy place.” Meaning lower Manhat-tan, where she worked.She paused, put her nose to the air in mock confidence. “I’llget a boyfriend,” she said. She batted her eyelashes and drew outa sly smile. Tey were great kidders, the Chehabs, and no boy-friends, it seemed, had yet called for Pegeen. “I’ll get myself married,” she said, and then licked all at once the four tall fingersof the gloveless hand and swatted them against the dirty cloth.“Amadan,” she said again. Which, she explained, was hermother’s word for fool. And then she released the skirt of her long coat and, dippingher shoulders, shook herself back into it again. She reminded meof a bird taking a sand bath. “I fell down,” she announced. Shesaid it in the same fond and impatient tone she had used to de-scribe the lost glove, the forgotten library book. “On the subway.”It was the tone a mother might use, speaking about a favorite,unruly child.Pegeen blew some exasperated air through her pooched-outlower lip. “I don’t know what the blazes makes me fall,” she saidimpatiently. “I do it all the time.” She suddenly squinted and theflush just under her downy skin rose to a deep maroon. She low-ered her face to mine. “Don’t you dare tell my mother,” she said.I was seven years old. I spoke mostly to my parents. o my brother. o my teachers when I had to. I gave some whisperedresponse to Father Quinn or to Mr. Lee at the candy store whenmy mother poked me in the ribs. I could not imagine having aconversation with Mrs. Chehab, who was red-haired and very tall. Still, I promised. I would say nothing.Pegeen shook herself again, standing back and lifting hershoulders inside the pale blue coat. “But there’s always someonenice,” she said, her voice suddenly gone singsong. “Someone al- ways helps me up.” She struck another pose, coy and haughty, as
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