Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore

Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore

Author:Elizabeth Wetmore
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 2020-03-30T00:00:00+00:00


When Debra Ann asks if she can borrow Potter’s old army tent, which has been gathering dust in the garage for twenty years, Corrine tells the girl that she and Potter spent many happy nights in that tent, hunting white-tailed deer in Big Bend or stargazing in the Guadalupe Mountains. They took their first real vacation as a family in the summer of 1949, the three of them staring into the Grand Canyon, Potter and Corrine gripping Alice’s fingers until she howled. When they drove back to their campsite, Alice stood swaying between them on the bench seat, and every time they hit a pothole, they laughed and threw their arms in front of their daughter saying, wouldn’t it be funny if Alice went flying out the window? When she climbed down from the seat and fell asleep on the floorboard between Corrine’s feet, Potter turned off the radio and slowed to a crawl until he could carry their daughter to the tent and zip her into the sleeping bag they had placed between theirs.

D. A. yawns and scuffs her feet, rubs her eyes and tugs on her eyebrow. Okay, Mrs. Shepard. Can I borrow it?

That’s what you do when you get as old as me, you remember as much as you can, all the time. How are you doing, Miss Pierce? Corrine asks, and Debra Ann smiles. It is the first honest grin Corrine has seen since the Fourth of July came and went with no sign of Ginny.

I’m doing good, D. A. says. I’m going to help my friend Jesse get back home to Tennessee.

Who? Corrine starts to say, because Debra Ann is too old for imaginary friends, but she decides to leave it alone. Who knows what story D. A.’s been cooking up this summer, what kind of complicated narrative she’s woven? Who can know the mind of a child?

You’re doing well, honey. What happened to Peter and Lily?

They aren’t real. Jesse’s a real person.

Mmm-hmmm. Corrine reaches over and pushes the girl’s hair out of her eyes. Come over tomorrow and I’ll trim your bangs for you.

After Debra Ann has dragged the tent down the street, a butter-and-sugar sandwich clutched in her free hand, Corrine pours herself a glass of buttermilk and makes a fried egg sandwich while she half watches, half listens to the news. Jimmy Carter, gas leak near Sterling City, rig counts up and beef down, not a word about Gloria Ramírez or the trial scheduled in less than a month but tonight, there is a new horror. The newscaster cuts to a reporter standing next to an oil lease near Abilene. A local woman’s body has been found, the fourth in the past two years. What a thing an oil boom is for a town, Corrine used to tell Potter bitterly. It brings in the very best sort of psychopath. And if the prognosticators can be believed, this boom is only just beginning. She switches off the television and heads outside to move the sprinkler.


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