A Limited Engagement by Josh Lanyon

By Josh Lanyon

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And she still had the "family face" which he shared with her. But, as George told it, she seemed "to have seen something which constantly filled her mind even while talking to me. " He had a funny feeling that made him look foolish to himself: she was not alone, and he knew it. But he could not get the sense of it all. He was not only puzzled by her behavior, but by its effect on him: she frightened him. George normally did not frighten easily. And he never had felt fear with any of his immediate family.

Partly out of curiosity, partly to satisfy his mother's request, he decided to hide the crucifix in the room as his mother had asked him. When Marianne went to the bathroom, George placed the small crucifix under her mattress. No sooner had Marianne returned and sat on the edge of the bed than she turned white as chalk and fell rigidly to the floor, where she lay jerking her pelvis back and forth as though in great pain. In seconds the expression on her face had changed from dreamy to almost animal; she foamed at the mouth and bared her teeth in a grimace of pain and anger.

The family was then of lower middle income. It was strongly Roman Catholic and closely knit. Her parents, both of Polish origin and secondgeneration American, had no living relatives in the United States. Close friends were few. Neither of them had completed high school; and they had never found time for culture or much leisure for the finer things in life. Her mother was a quiet-spoken, firm woman who held a job and continually worried : about bills. Her father was a bluff, down-to-earth character who grew up in the Depression, married late, was solidly faithful to his wife, and never fretted about difficulties, and, outside his working hours, spent all his spare time at home.

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