Sunday, August 11, 2013

the last book I ever read (Mary Coin by Marisa Silver, excerpt two)

from Marisa Silver's Mary Coin:

“He’s been taken away,” she said to her children, who were waiting outside the tent. And then she changed what she’d said, because right at that moment she stopped believing in God. “He’s left us,” she said. And that was not right, either, because it suggested that he had made a decision to abandon them. She sat down on the ground and let the children come to her. “We’re alone,” she told them. This is what it all amounted to in the end. Toby’s brothers and their wives had been generous through the worst of the illness, making up for Toby’s lost earnings by giving Mary extra potatoes and carrots, a bone for her soup. But they could not continue to cut into their own supplies to keep her and her kids going. And she couldn’t bear to stay with them. It was too difficult to watch Robert’s and Levi’s children run to greet their fathers when the day was done. It made her angry to see gestures of affection pass between the couples or to lie in bed and hear the low murmurs and laughter coming from their nearby tents. And although they would never say as much, Mary’s sisters-in-law counted Toby’s death as her failure just as they thought her six children were her folly. Mary knew it was the meanness of the times that made them think this way. Each day, the camps were flooded with families, and there was not enough work to go around. People became competitive in all sorts of ways, as if a better dress or a laughing child or a living husband as proof that a person would make it.

Mary sustained the weight of sorrow that would descend on her freshly each morning when she woke up and had to remind herself all over again that her husband was gone. But what terrified her most was that she knew that what had happened to her had not really happened yet. Right now there was only waking and feeding and sending the big children to school and taking the little ones into the field and wiping sweat and filling a bag and standing on lines. A larger grief was still out there, waiting to overtake her when she was not looking. She had to be careful.

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