The Visitor

Discomfort marked Charlene’s visits to Mrs. Harley; her need to change this bitter, forgotten woman approaching her death sent Charlene adrift, thinking after that one passage about Good Works requiring suffering. She’ll ask Father when they regroup.

Mrs. Harley reached for a cigarette. Charlene remembered her mother, who passed in Grace, and she began to resent her charge. She prayed, silently, that her anger pass.
Mrs. Harley coughed and said, “To me, your people were Godless. You sit like a harlot. Your mother’s fault, no doubt.”

Charlene winced, swallowed, and asked, smiling, “Shall we pray for me then, Mrs. Harley?”

— Derek Bayne


Derek Bayne: “Baltimorean.”

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