Run River

Run River by Joan Didion Page A

Book: Run River by Joan Didion Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joan Didion
Tags: Fiction, Contemporary, v5.0
should be conducted were based almost entirely upon information given him by Everett. Once he had absorbed two or three facts, usually tangential, he would cut Everett off by saying that it was no news to him, he knew those yellowbellies and all their tricks like the back of his hand.
    Everett folded the newspaper and smiled. “How long you been awake?”
    She laughed and put her hands to her stomach. It was still swollen. “You needn’t whisper. Where’s the baby?”
    He came back in a few minutes with one of the nuns, who held the baby wrapped in pink flannel.
    “A girl,” she said. “That would have pleased Daddy.”
    “It pleases me.”
    Lily turned her head on the pillow so that she could see Everett’s face.
    “Listen,” she said. “I was all right this time, wasn’t I.”
    “You were fine.”
    She lay back. “I can’t feed it, you know.”
    “They’ll feed her.”
    “It’s funny to hear you say her . I don’t even know what we’ll call it.”
    “You said Julia. Julia Knight McClellan. I thought we decided that.”
    “I just said that because of my grandmother. I never really thought it would be a girl. I was thinking of Walter.” She laughed. “It’s entirely too small to call something like Julia Knight McClellan. It sounds like a suffragette.”
    “She’s big for a baby.” Everett turned to the nun. “Didn’t you say she was big for a baby?”
    “Everett, I know . She’s a regular King Kong of a baby.”
    “Listen,” she added after the nun had left the room. “We’ll have more. We’ll have about six. And Martha can have about six. And they’ll have these terrible fights because there won’t be enough land to go around.”
    “And Sarah. Don’t forget Sarah.”
    “That’s right, and Sarah.” She had in fact forgotten Sarah. “Anyway. There’ll be this one runt. Likable but you know, a loser. He’ll be conned out of everything but some little back piece with no water. Then one day while the rest of them are playing golf—they’ll be forever hanging around the country club, that type—and he’s scratching around his place, you know what happens then?”
    “Everett, baby. You live so in the past. It turns out his piece is the only exit for one hundred miles on a proposed transcontinental freeway.”
    “A freeway?”
    “An exit , Everett. Standard Stations. Motels. Piggly Wiggly Markets. Long-term leases.”
    Everett smiled.
    “Listen,” she said. “I behaved this time, didn’t I.”
    Everett sat down by the bed and took her hand. “Yes.”
    “I didn’t get scared and make a lot of trouble. I mean all the way through it was all right this time.”
    “You didn’t make a lot of trouble before.”
    “I did. Your father told Martha he hoped I never got pregnant again because I was impossible.”
    “Who told you that?”
    “Never mind. I was, that’s the point.”
    “Martha didn’t mean it if she told you that.”
    “Never mind. It was better this time, you saw.”
    “It was fine.”
    “You have to take care of me,” she whispered.
    He held her hand and looked out the window a long while. “I will,” he said. “I do. Don’t I.”
    Although she had thought for a moment that she had never been so happy, Everett had left when her mother came (“I meant to come earlier but I was downtown,” Edith Knight said, remotely bewildered, the way she had been since a few weeks after the funeral; despite a new vicuña coat and an absolute lack of any visible defect in her grooming, she presented a curious impression of disarray, twisting her rings, smoothing her hair; straightening the sheet as she kissed Lily goodbye), and after her mother left Lily was alone. The nuns had begun their evening visits, walking the corridor in pairs. When one paused outside the door, the light blinking off her thick glasses, Lily turned away from the door, pretending to be asleep, and as she watched the street lights blur through the blown branches outside the window

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