‘Indelicacy,’ by Amina Cain: An Excerpt

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[ Return to the review of “Indelicacy.” ]

“The one-humped camel is from the Middle East and the Horn of Africa,” she said in a high voice.

“And the two-humped camel?” a child yelled out. Another child started crying.

“And you, do you love your husband?” Antoinette asked, in the midst of all this.

“I like him very much. And admire him greatly.” “I see.”

Whether I loved my husband was of no interest; I wanted to change the subject. “Antoinette, I’m very sorry I never said goodbye. It was wrong of me not to tell you I was going away.” Though I sounded almost completely phony when I said this, it was not how I felt. The emotion was intensely true, but I wasn’t able to communicate it in the way I was experiencing it.

“Don’t be silly, you have nothing to apologize for.”

I took her hand. Next to us the child was crying still. “Nothing? What do you mean? What kind of friend does that?”

“I assume you did what you needed, that you had your reasons.” She glanced at the teacher, who had moved to comfort the child, then went on, “But it’s true I was hurt then. You were there with me at the museum, and then one day you were gone. At first I was worried, but one of the others said she saw you in a shop, looking quite fine.”

“Yes, I was okay.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter now, that’s what I mean. I’ve moved on. It’s nothing you should dwell on.”

“Will you visit me? Please? I want to know you again. Will you do it soon?” I tore a page out of my notebook and wrote down my address, and though I wasn’t sure she would actually come, she promised me she would.



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