,T ER S P 1? CT I V s.
lk--Lp JL " A-0 JL -A
By Katherine Ruddy
F AYE didn't have much to worry
about, the neighbors said. Faye
was a very fortunate girl. She had
lovely clothes, - perhaps not as
many or as expensive ones as some of
her friends whose families put every-
thing on their back, but plenty of clothes
for any girl. After all, you know, beauty
is as beauty does. She was quite popu-
lar-everyone knew her, and almost
everyone liked her, mostly because they
had known her all their lives, and there
didn't seem to be much reason for not
liking her. She had dates on weekends-
just Friday and Saturday nights, of
course. It isn't a good idea for a young
girl to go out on school nights.
And such a wonderful family-they
all got along so well. Mrs. Martin was
so sweet--rather quiet, but Mr. Martin
made uo for it. Honestly, that nan
could tell funny stories for hours on
end. He had a marvelous sense of hu-
mor,-and such a strong personality.
He was such a good influence on the
children. Just made the family one-
a real united group. If families were
all as agreebale as the Martins, would
not life be pleasant? --.
Faye, was walking home from school.
She was in the eleventh grade. and
right now she felt good, as any high
school student would, about the 95
she'd gotten in Chemistry. It was Feb-
ruary. and the day was cold. The wind
reddened her bare legs, and then made
little white spots in the red. She would
be glad to get warm.
It was very cold, but it was like any
other day. She had gone to school and
a few interesting things had happened
but not very many. She would be going
to a class dance that night, because
it was Friday. Now, she just wanted to
get into the warm house.
The house was ordinary, too. Like
most of the houses on the street, or
even in the city, it was built of a drab
brick with a bare stretch of front where,
every spring neighbors met on a com-
mon, barren, grassless ground for the
common and usually fruitless purpose of
making the grass grow. She hurried up
the front steps and found her key in
her purse with tingling fingers and un-
locked the door. It was afternoon, and
the door was locked. Mr. Martin belived
in keeping everything locked all the
time. It was the best thing to do. When
you left doors unlocked, it got around
in the underworld; things like that did,
he said. He had heard.
Mrs. Martin called, "Faye?"
"Yeah, it's me."
"Well, it's about time you got home."
She wasn't scolding. That was just
something she always said when one of
the children came in.
"Where's Bill?" she asked.
"I don't know."
"Wasn't he over at school?"
"I suppose so. I just didn't see him."
"He should have been home long ago.
Daddy told him to take out the ashe'
and put some coal on the fire. He hasn't
been home all day."
"Nope, I haven't seen him." Faye was
reading the funnies. One of her legs
was thrown over an arm of the chair.
and she spoke in a mumbly, annoyed
voice. She didn't like to be disturbe
when she read the funnies."
'Daddy'll make the same old fuss. I
get so sick of it. Why can't that boy get
any place on time?" Mrs. Martin hated
arguments, but there was not a great
deal of concern in her voice. There were
so many in this house. One got used to
them. Faye knew there would be as
argument, too. But she wasn't worry-
ing. It wouldn't be very serious, she
thought: just the same old thing, with
Daddy shouting at Bill, and Bill not
saying much, but getting very red and
doing what he had forgotten-silently.
She always wanted to kick her father
when he bawled Bill out. -In the
stomach, she decided, and she wonder-
ed what would happen if she ever did
it. Whenever lie was .angry he puffed
out and pointed at nothing in particiu-
lar very dramatically. It looked funny.
Whenever he saw Faye smiling at these
time/ he was even angrier and told her
to wipe that smile off her face.
Mary, her younger sister, sat across
from Faye on the couch. She had a book
in her hand, but she hadn't looked at
it for several minutes. Not since Mrs.
them in themselves, but he always said
such stupid things, and made such an
ass of himself, and was so noisy. She
wondered if quiet, sensible Mr. Lorn,
the father of her best friend, ever shout-
ed and said stupid things.
Her mother was clattering the dishes
in the kitchen where she was fixing
supper. Mr. Martin carried the bag in
to her before he had even taken off
his hat and coat. Faye could hear them
as they talked.
irti o/ en
I walked through waste alone
And in the wide sky, like the sun I hung
A great round smiling God-face.
Through the waste-lands from the prairies
Dragging footsteps in the hot sands,
Staring always upward, smiling
At the God-face.
Walking through the parched sands,
Saying praises to the God-face;
Panting "Water, water . ." and the God-face
Smiled and nodded.
Muttering and gasping hotly, afraid of sand,
Afraid of looking down, I followed
The retreating image; toward the
Smiling nodding God-face.
"Water!" I screamed. And the God-face
Smiled and nodded
"Water!" . . . and the God-face crinkled,
Shattered in a thousand pieces.
Now the sky is blue and blank and farther,
And I suck my own blood.
Look downward, fool, and see the sand
Is growing green things,
"Yes, she told me. But she didn't tell
me why you weren't home."
"I didn't have time,"
"Why didn't you make time?"
"I just didn't have time. I've been
over at the library since school let out."
"It isn't such a distance that you
couldn't have come home for a few
minutes to put a couple of shovels of
coal on the fire."
"Well, my gosh, anyone around here
could do that. I've been working at the
library all afternoon."
"So you want Mother to run up and
down stairs all day, besides doing house-
work for you. And you probably weren't
at the library, either."
"I'n not a liar."
"Don't talk back to me, you little
snip." Bill was 18 and about five foot
ten. "When I was your age I was haul
ing wood for six families and doing my
"But, SIm not a liar."
"Don't you say that, again. You're a
dirty little liar, and you're so lazy you
Faye heard Mary gasp, and then the
little girl ran up the stairs, two at a
time. The door to her room upstairs
slammed. Her mother was still in the
kitchen and the noise of dishes was still
audible. Faye could imagine her
mother's face as she had seen it so
many times before on these occasions.
It would be rigid, and her mouth would
be thin with the pressure of her teeth.
It did no good for her to say anything.
That only made Mr. Martin think that
they were both against him, and he
shouted even more.
Her father had risen to his feet to
face the boy. They weren't far apart,
and Faye was becoming frightened, her-
self, now. She wanted to run upstairs
as Mary had done and cover her eyes
with the bedspread and put her hands
tight over ier ears. But if she did, she
might miss something. She decided she
"Now get downstairs and take care
of that furnace. And put a couple of
shovels of coal on the fire. Go on, get
down there fast." Mr. Martin was us-
Mg that dramatic, pointing finger,
again. Faye thought she had never seen
anything so loathsome in her life. She
hated him. She got the feeling again of
wanting to kick him. Yes, in the stom-
ach. It would hurt the most there--the
way he was hurting Bill.
But she had never seen Bill so angry,
either. He didn't move. His face was
very red. Finally, he said, again, 'I'm
not a liar."
Mr. Martin took another sten toward
him. "Don't let me hear you say that,
again. And get down those stairs!" Fury
blurred his voice, and he raised his arm.
Bill kept looking at him for several sec-
onds more; then he looked away and
started slowly for the door to the base-
ment. His dragging steps seemed to en-
rage his father further. The man sud-
denly stepped forward and kicked him.
Bill kept on walking toward the door.
When he got there he Turned around
and said quietly, "Damn you." He was
crying. Then he went down the steps.
Her father didn't move, just stood
and looked at the half-open door. Faye
was surprised when he didn't start after
Bill again. He just stood. She had an
empty feeling in her stomach, and she,
wanted to do something or say some-
Bot why should she be unhappy? She
was a very fortunate girl. This happen-
ed in every family. Everybody quarreled
and nothing ever really happened. Fights
were always forgotten, weren't they?
Mr. Martin turned back to his chair
and picked his paper up slowly. "Now,
maylbe we'll get some heat around here,"
Martin had talked about there being an
argument. Faye could see her out of the
corner of her eye. She looked fright-
ened. Whenever there was a fight in the
house Mary went up to her room and
lay on the bed, face down, until it was
over. She was only twelve, and Faye
decided that she wasn't old enough to
have gotten used to the arguments.
Looking at the girl's pale face, she felt
sorry for her, but she couldn't under-
stand her. Heavens, if a person got ex- .
cited about every fight in this house,
he'd never have a minute's peace. Be-
sides they didn't mean anything.
The doorbell rang twice, long and
hard. It was Mr. Martin; you could
always tell. Faye went to the door,
opened it, said, "Hi, Daddy", kissed him,
and took the other evening paper out
of the paper sack he was carrying.
Mr. Martin said, "Hello, honey.
Don't get in my way, now. Look out !
These are eggs, and they cost money."
That was the way it always was. Just
like any other home. Faye liked her
father, except when he got in one of
those arguments. Not that she minded
"No, he had work to do at school, I
"He hasn't touched the furnace, I
"Np, he hasn't been home all day,
"We could all freeze around here, as
far as he's concerned. He isn't working,
either. Probably wasting his time some-
Her mother didn't say anything. Faye
recognized the technique, for she used
it often. If she was silent long enough
and gave her husband time to cool
down, he was in less of a mood to argue
when Bill came in.
Mr. Martin had taken off his hat and
coat and was reading the evening paper
by the time Bill got home. He came in
whistling, a notebook under his arm.
"Hi," he said,
His father used no preliminaries. "Yes,
'Hi"', he repeated. "Have you been down
to the furnace today?"
Bill put the notebook down careful-
ly and started to pull his shoulder out
of his jacket, "No, I haven't been home
all day. Didn't mother tell you?"