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.After some time, she returned from the bathroom to Slim and Marla, full of a secret, overbearing pleasure about one thing, though regarding another matter, feeling gravely disappointed.Slim was waiting for her, arms crossed, fingering her long neckscarf.“During this short separation, you’ve been in my thoughts and I know I’ve been in yours.But overall, I’m beginning to lose interest in you.You are so inexpressive! I need more stimulus than you offer, since I am lavish in my passions and expressions, so vivid, and you are, well …” she trailed off for a moment, then added somberly, “The truth is that I am quite disappointed with the world and all its people, including you.”Slim picked up her coat, a heavy brown fur, saying, “You are quiet, you see, and I make a habit of avoiding quiet people, for the obvious reasons.” She reached out a quivering hand.“Yet,” she said slowly, thinking, “part of me wants to save you from senseless waters.I crave so many things! Like the special feeling that can only come from one person saving another—so—” She paused.“In a sense, you could say that I’ve searched the world for you!” Slim laughed, eyes full of tears.“And I would like to make you happy.Oh, don’t be nervous, I’m not going to do anything but hold your hand.”Trembling, Dra— let out a sputtering, excited rush of air, scarcely able to imagine what would happen if she were to stay here with Slim, and do just as Slim liked.Yet she was abominably late for the new job, the worry over this rocking inside her foully until, staring at the two women, who were beginning to seem somewhat unreal, she controlled her feelings and stated that at all costs she must leave immediately for her new worksite, or else things would surely take a turn for the worse.But after making this statement, she merely continued to stand before them, for the very idea of pulling herself away from the two women with their rich clothing and strangely vibrant looks filled her with savage despair.As the silence went on, Slim sighed and stooped to pull a small telephone from beneath one of the chairs; and as immediately as she raised the phone to her ear, she began speaking warmly to someone.Marla, arms folded, took this opportunity to step closer and whisper:“Do you know what it is to say the words, yet not be heard? It rankles, it does! What to do when the other person just doesn’t listen? Nothing, you do nothing.We can’t change other people and that’s that.We hate to speak up anyway because we don’t want the pain of a real confrontation, do we? Isn’t it easier to sit still and nurse one’s thoughts, trying to gain strength to sit for even longer? There’s no room for two sides of an argument, either.One side always emerges the winner, doesn’t it?”“Yes,” Dra— said, with a crushing rush of empathy.“And we can’t ever assume our friends will understand why we’re upset, can we?” Marla shook her head.“I hang in there no matter how I feel, even if it’s a gray, awful feeling.Do you? Are you the sticking sort? I am.I’m a good cook and I stick around.I’m older than I look.People who can’t stick around aren’t really cut out for a relationship.”Finished with the phone call, Slim stood and pulled Marla by the shoulder, drawing her back, as Marla whispered on, “I bet you know what it’s like to be depressed and have all sorts of awful, negative thoughts that just coincidentally happen to be true.”Slim said, “Stop talking, girls.Marla and I have places to go, and so we say goodbye.We’re off to eat.Tamales! As were prepared decades ago, stored in jars.They’re in a locker very far from here—too far for you to walk.Drop us a line, sometime, dear—”“Yes, address it to ‘The Misses Paul,” ’ said Marla, and the two women took up their things and left.Standing alone on the vast roof which was now emptied of airplanes and noise, save for an echoing, windy sound high above, Dra— felt the familiar and strange, shadowy pain resurface in her back.Clucking to herself, she headed back to the toilet, the place where she would feel best right now, she decided, for the toilet’s close wooden walls were dimly comforting, as was the idea of stubbornly sitting there for hours with no results.Shutting herself inside the room, sitting, she sighed, pondering her problems with a silence like nails, far in the distance hearing a door bang shut.She imagined jumping up to race after Slim and Marla, and that upon hearing her approach, the two of them would turn and laugh gladly, welcoming her, saying that they had intended for her to join them for lunch all along, that it had just been a kind of oversight that they had forgotten to invite her, and that they would then exclaim with pleasure and take Dra— into their arms; and these thoughts were so compelling that she did, in fact, jump up, smooth her skirt, and run from the toilet after Slim and Marla, mouth watering at the thought of the tamales.Winding softly down the stairwell, she glimpsed them a few floors below her, walking arm in arm.Perspiring, afraid to make herself known, Dra— trailed behind, taking care so they would not see her or hear her footfalls.Suddenly she had the distinct impression, as if from an objective, telegraphic source, that her future, though probably to include a good, dependable job, was certain to be brief and senseless.Following Slim and Marla, she watched as they turned into a hallway then leaned toward one another in an ugly display of public affection.She raced ahead, hard prickles of anger on her scalp, not wanting to lose them, still hearing, almost in her bones, the vibrations of the indoor airplanes several floors above.But she was not able to catch up; the two were distant now, difficult to see, and they passed through an enormous steel doorway at the end of the hall, which for some reason fell shut after them with a drastic, reverberating bang.Dra— sprinted toward the door, fearful that the Administrator would at this point likely banish her for her lateness, and finally reaching the door, she flung herself upon it with a sob [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]