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Nov. 17, 1944.
I Can’t Wait Forever
By Mary Ellen Byrd
(This story won Honorable Mention
in the Atlantic Monthly short story
contest last spring. The story was
written for English composition
“That girl’s a disgrace to human
ity,” Bill remarked emphatically as
he put down his beer glass. I looked
toward the door of the Port Hole,
the university “night club.” Carol
Burroughs had just walked in, es
corted by a young ensign. Carol was
a war widow of three months.
“Oh, don’t be so hard on her,”
I said. “She can’t just stay at
home and mourn forever.”
“Yeah, but she hasn’t started
yet,” Bill answered. “When was
it that boy was killed? About three
months ago, wasn’t it? Sometime
in the last of March? And she’s been
running around here like a young de-
^>utante ever since.”
That’s just what ydu think,”
I told him.
“I’m not lying!” he answered
hotly. “She’s been in, here ever
Jiight this week cutting up and hav
ing a big time! I wouldn’t marry a
roan I didn’t love any more than
“She loved him,” I said. “Yjou
just don’t know. It’s just the way
that everything has happened. You
know, war does things to people
• • . Carol didn’t get to live with
■^ndy more than a week, and she
probably doesn’t even feel that she
was married to him.”
“Well, I wish to goodness she’d
act like she was any-way. This gay
young widow stuff worries me,” Bill
Parol was a casual school friend
■whom I had met in the fall a few
after I had registered at the
University. That day she had come
I'ounding down the dormitory hall
screaming, “Look, everybody, look!”
That was the day she had got Andy’s
diamond. Andy was a marine from
Carol’s home town, and she had only
recently fallen in love with him.
Four months later, I had seen
I'his same tall, dark girl again rush
ing excitedly down the hall. This
time, however, she was crying wildly
and clutching a 'telegram which
read, “Eegret to inform you that
your husband Andrew Burroughs
was killed in action in the Solomon
Andy Burroughs killed in action!
They had been married just a week
before he had gone across. A week’s
honeymoon. Now Carol found her
self a nineteen year old widow.
I tried to help her pack that night
to go home, and I listened mutely
as she moaned over and over, “I
can’^t believe it.”
A week later, when she came
l)ack to school, I dreaded to see
her. But there was no sign of grief.
A cool composure had replaced her
excitement. She.was still pretty, but
she had lost some of her animation
and acquired a new hardness. She
never mentioned Andy’s name to
Two months later Carol surprised
me by inviting me to go home with
her for a week-end. There were no
seats left on the crowded bus, but
two soldiers got up and gave us
theirs. Carol sat down in a flurry
and whipped out a cigarette.
‘‘Where you boys from?” she
“Where all good boys come from
—New Jersey,” one of them an
“New Jersey!” Carol exclaimed.
“God, I wish I were there now. I
spent a summer in Trenton once.
Some place!” She blew out a cloud
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I • ^ I
of smoke and gazed out the window
for a minute.
“Plenty of night life in Trenton,”
the boy went on.
“You’re not kidding!” Carol said.
“And I surely could stand some of
it now. School’s the dullest place
I’ve ever seen. I though if I didn’t
get away from there I’d scream. I’m
going home now. Not that there’s
any thing to do there. It’s just a
“You live near here?” the boy
“Whitfield. About a hundred
miles. It’s a little dump of a
southern town. Not but about fifteen
thousand people. It was dull before
the war, but that was nothing to
what it is now. Ugh!” she shook
her head. “I wish this fool busi
ness was over with.”
“You’re not the only one,” the
More people got on the bus then,
and the soldiers moved toward the
rear. Carol lighted another cigarete
and gazed out the window. She
didn’t talk much the rest of the
trip but just sat there smoking and
gazing and thinking. I wondered
what she was thinking.
When we arrived in Whitfield,
my first thought was, “It is a little
dump of a town,” but Carol’s big,
brick home was large and comfor
table and not at all dumpy. We
hadn’t been there two hours, how-
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308 W. 5th St. m
A HEARTY WELCOIVIE TO
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ever, before Carol was ready to
move. “Let’s go down street. Think
I’ll do some shopping. Every rag
I’ve got looks like it had been
through a hurricane,” she said,
carefully putting on lipstick. Her
face in the mirror looked tired, but
still pretty. It was remarkable how
pretty Carol was.
The store we walked into had a
big sign which read “Burroughs
Fine Clothing.” It was the nicest
store in town and was owned by
Andy’s father. The big, kind man
came rushing over to talk to Carol.
“How are you dear? It’s good
to see you,” he said. Putting his
hands on Carol’s shoulders, *he
peered into her eyes as if he might
see Andy there. The clerks had
gathered around, too. They had all
worshipped Andy, and they loved
Carol because he had loved her.
“Oh, I’m fine,” Carol said, avoid
ing Mr. Burroughs’ eyes. “Came in
to buy a dress.”
“Yes, you ought to have some
thing new, “Mr. Burroughs agreed.
‘ ‘ Here’s a nice plain gray—good
“I don’t want ” Carol stopped
herself. She didn’t want anything
else nice and plain and especially
(Cont. on page four)
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