Living in the Aftermath

Edward Hopper, “Automat,” 1927

The war has been over for five years, but still she watches for him. She can see him as he was–in threadbare clothes like everyone–but somehow elegant. As her cigarette burns untouched, along with the food on her plate, she thinks about their last meeting and his promise to meet her at the safehouse.

She sat inside it for hours, as the day darkened to dusk, then thinking she heard a sound—she remembers it so well–walking outside to find there is nothing behind the wall except a space where the wind whistles. And then the soldiers came. Had Pierre betrayed her? Is he living a life with another name now? How many names has he had?

She has survived, but she’s only half alive. She sits at the table in the dreary café till closing. Then goes home alone.

This is for dVerse, where I’m hosting Prosery today, using

“there is nothing behind the wall
except a space where the wind whistles”
from “Drawings By Children” by Lisel Mueller

I thought I’d go back to the spies—a different couple, I think–and Hopper.

65 thoughts on “Living in the Aftermath

  1. This is fantabulous, Merril. I was right there with her. I so hope he has not betrayed her and it is a question of time before she gets real answers, if not him in body (though I honestly don’t want that choice either!)

  2. I have to believe they were both in the French Resistance, and will find each other again and live happily ever after! Well penned.

  3. An intriguing dynamic here. This story captivates me. With love and betrayal, it’s a messy line, you can only put so much trust into a person. Then, there’s that wicked self-doubt. I felt all of what she was going through here–the waiting, the ambiguity, the anticipation.

    Great work. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I think you’re so right–the love and betrayal, the self-doubt. And if they both were spies, then there’s a whole other level of trust and illusion.

  4. Love this enticing tale as the theme of spies continues, Merril! 💝 I resonate with the questions swimming around in her head especially; “Is he living a life with another name now? How many names has he had?” It’s complicated when one loves and hates the same person. 🙂

  5. In there lies a magnificent mystery. Hope he reappears at some point in another chapter.
    Thanks for dropping by to read mine


  6. I love Hopper’s paintings, and you’ve imagined the story behind this one so well! Just sums up all the sadness in that woman’s face. I hope she gets her life back one day.

  7. Your words go perfect with the painting. I would love to read more but it is a good flash piece for one’s imagination to finish. I like this line, “She has survived, but she’s only half alive.” Poignant!

  8. I’m an Edward Hopper fan; that picture is among my favourites, and it complements your prose so well, Merril. I love the description of Pierre ’in threadbare clothes like everyone–but somehow elegant’, and the wistful, almost heart-breaking, thought of her waiting until the ‘day darkened to dusk’ – the alliteration makes it sound even drearier and dangerous.

  9. Pingback: Expectations | A Dalectable Life

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