Chapter Three

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She chewed on the impulse all that night and all the next day. When Saturday morning came, Dorothy knew she'd have to swallow it.

After getting dressed, she dumped porridge into a bowl for Charlie and gave him a poke to get him up.

"Don't get into any trouble today."

Back in bed, his brown hair sticking out everywhere and his bowl crooked in his elbow on the bed, he just grunted at her. She figured he'd be snoring by the time she reached the sidewalk.

Once she left the flat, she didn't head south towards the Monroe house, but west. She turned onto Windsor Street and slowed down when the old house came into view.

Pink curtains. Hideous pink curtains with enormous blue flowers.

She couldn't bear to think of what it might look like inside. Her father's woman had probably stripped the place clean of every happy memory that had come before her.

The curtains had been cheerful yellow that washed the big kitchen with sunshine. Dorothy remembered the morning she and her mother went to the store to buy them. Sarah had been giddy. The curtains were the first store-bought curtains she'd ever bought, and she'd been so pleased once they were hung that Abel joked that she acted as though they were made from spun gold. A week later, he'd given her more money and a kiss on the cheek and told her to go buy some new bedding.

Dorothy hoped that Ena Murphy had done with the bedding whatever she did with those yellow curtains, whether it was to give them away or tuck them in a drawer, even burn them. As much as she hated the thought of something her mother had loved being destroyed, it would have been worse if that woman slept with Sarah Gaston's husband under that beautiful white coverlet.

She wondered if this was even her father's house she looked at, or if her father had moved and someone else had put up those pink curtains. Surely not. Someone would have told her if her father had sold.

Dad will be off to work. She's probably in there alone. I could just walk right in and tell her what I think of her.

She stuffed her fists into her pockets and imagined that Murphy woman's face, those tiny features pinching until it looked like her nose and lips were being swallowed by her enormous head as Dorothy tore one strip after another off of her.

Or I could walk up, ask to speak to Dad and let him have it. Abel Gaston only worked only a few blocks away, doing repairs on railway cars at the car works.

The peppery itch in her nose warned her of the angry tears that were coming. She turned away from the house and started walking. She refused to cry and she wouldn't waste another tear on Ena Murphy or her father anyway.

But she couldn't keep from thinking about the day they left home.

Dorothy and Ian had come home first and were making supper together as they waited for Charlie to come in from playing and for their father to return after work. They talked together as Dorothy boiled the macaroni and Ian sliced cheese. When Dorothy started to cry because her macaroni and cheese wouldn't taste as good as Mum's, Ian had gotten up from the table and hugged her, and they cried together.

And then Ena Murphy had come through the door with her brown suitcase.

Dorothy didn't have a clue who the woman was, but Ian did. He later told Dorothy that when he had stayed behind the weekend she, Sarah and Charlie went visiting in New Glasgow, he'd come home from supper out and found his father and that woman together on the chesterfield.

Abel had tried to tell Ian that fooling around was something all men do. Ian left the house before he bashed his father's head in. He later said his father's messing around was why Sarah seemed so sad the last few years of her life.

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