Excerpt from "Barbara"


Barbara was surprised to find Jack home when she returned from showing property the afternoon after her dinner with Aunt Sophie.

"Your Aunt Sophie called me at the club today," he said. "I didn't realize you were practicing tennis every day, but I did notice how skinny you've gotten. You're even thinner than you were before you got pregnant. It doesn't look good, Barbara, and it isn't healthy. She told me about the problem you had in high school, when you got down to 80 pounds and had to go to the hospital. Why didn't you ever tell me about that?"

Barbara threw her purse down on the coffee table and began pacing back and forth across the living room. "She shouldn't have called you," she said angrily. "I'm fine!"

"Barbara, come over here and sit down," Jack said, patting the cushion next to him on the couch.

"I really can't, Jack," she said, irritably, continuing to pace. " I just stopped by to change clothes. I have a tennis lesson with Sally in half an hour."

"Cancel it," he said shortly. "I'd like you to spend some time with me and the boys this afternoon. You hardly ever see them and they're changing so much every day. I'll bet you still can't tell them apart."

"I have to take my lesson," she said, her voice rising. "If I don't practice, I'll never make the 4.0 team. I don't have that much time left, and I challenged Bonnie to a ladder match next week." She felt so nervous. Was he going to try and stop her from taking her lesson? She headed for the stairs.

He got up and walked quickly in front of the stairs, barring her way.

"Give it up, Barbara," he said.

"Jack, let me by!" she cried. "Can't you see, I'm doing this for you?"

"Don't do it for me," he said. "I don't care whether you make the team, but I do care that my sons don't ever see their mother."
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