Winter 2000 • Vol. XXII No. 1 FictionJanuary 1, 2000 |

Mercy

Aunt Sybil took the pebble from her husband's pocket each Thursday weeknight when she did the wash. She turned his dust-streaked coveralls inside out so the ragged seams stood up like fringes. She prayed over the blackened collar and set the washer to Heavy Duty/Warm and later the dryer to twenty minutes on Hot, so there was no need to iron. It was all finished by the time he began groaning up the stairs—ten o'clock nightly without fail. Before he hit the top step, before his "Nighttime is delight time!" and the rasping accompaniment of heels scraping toward the bed, the pea-sized pebble was back in place and never casually positioned. She stitched it into immobility, fixing it beneath the pocket flap so that if by chance he felt a nubbin on his hip, he'd assume it was the button and would never check. This mid-September Thursday found Aunt Sybil popping the thread with her teeth, unhurried even though her husband approached the doorway, his sweater already off and trailing fr

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Fitting

By Edith Pearlman

Aunt Sybil took the pebble from her husband's pocket each Thursday weeknight when she did the wash. She turned his dust-streaked coveralls inside out so the ragged seams stood up […]

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