The People Here
She walked barefoot from the car, holding the
shoes in her hand.
“I don’t know why you wear those anyway,” he
“Stupidity,” she said. “Peer pressure. That
wasn’t funny, was it?”
Inside the apartment, he put the kettle on for
tea while she undressed at the kitchen table, folding the coat and
scarf in a corner, piling her jewelry in a neat heap, stripping to
her tee shirt. “The people here aren’t like us,” she said finally.
“What kind of statement is that?” he asked.
“Categorical,” she said.
He arranged the mugs on the counter and said,
“You don’t like them?”
“It’s not that. It’s just that did you know
that she has never shoplifted? Nothing. Not ever.”
“Not everyone commits crimes,” he said. “And
that doesn’t make them bad people.”
“I’m not saying they’re bad,” she said. “I mean
maybe we are bad. Maybe we are the bad ones.” She thought again of
the afternoon at the carnival when she’d pocketed the tiger’s eye
necklace, how easy and thrilling it had been to say thank you to the
clerk on her way out.
“I didn’t shoplift much either,” he said.
“But you have. You would.”
She unfolded and refolded her scarf, noticing
the pulls in the pattern, the ragged and loose chains. "That’s my