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Download What We Keep   by Elizabeth Berg PDF

By Elizabeth Berg

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Sample text

Mrs. O’Donnell was my first customer. She bought a couple of the rose-and-green ones—my favorite, as well—and then invited me in for Rice Krispies treats. After she’d given me an impromptu tour of her house, we sat down together at the kitchen table. Then we both seemed to realize we had nothing whatsoever to say. I noticed faint brown stains on her tablecloth, next to an embroidered picture of three gray kittens in a basket, whose blue eyes seemed sad to me, lost and pleading. “Oh, well,” Mrs.

My house? My house? All of it—a kitchen, a bathroom, two bedrooms, a back-porch stoop, a front door with a mail slot? “I don’t know,” I said. ” We sighed, exactly together, it seemed to me, and this was deeply comforting. I had a thought to take Sharla’s hand, but I knew she’d frown and lightly slap me away. We were deeply connected, Sharla and I, but very different. I was a cuddler; Sharla looked at an embrace as imprisonment. I could not touch her except to brush her hair, she liked that. In fact, she would pay me to do it.

Just before dawn, when the sky lit up at the bottom with its hopeful shade of gray/pink, we would sneak back into the house. Now our beds were acceptable, and we would pull down the shades and sleep until around ten, then come tousle-headed and blinking into the kitchen for a breakfast of peanut-butter toast and orange juice. Except for those rare times when our mother wasn’t home—when she put on her gloves and hat and took the bus to the dentist’s, say. At those times, we would have miniature Coke floats, served in the thin, light-refracting champagne flutes our parents kept in the high cupboard over the refrigerator.

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