Fall 2014 • Vol. XXXVI No. 4 Fiction |

The Peeping Toms

It's Tuesday night, and Clarice and Miriam are already in bed, lying side by side on their backs, books held aloft in their right hands. Most nights, they are exhausted by ten. They own a business, an Asian furniture store called Two Serious Ladies, and all day long they deal with people. Sometimes, these people actually come in to buy furniture, though more often they come in to kill time or make jokes along the lines of "I just wanted to see what serious ladies looked like." There are also those who come in looking for friendship, strangers looking to be less lonely. They tell the women oddly personal stories, and if they have just had wine with lunch, they even cry and solicit hugs. Clarice and Miriam had not been expecting any of this when they started the business six years ago. It's not that they didn't know the world was filled with lonely people or that they are unsympathetic, but they spend their days writing ads and balancing the books and oiling furniture because ever

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