from The Lottery and Other Stories, by Shirley Jackson
An odd (very, very brief) one.
I wasn't sure if the doctor was supposed to be a psychologist/psychiatrist or a GP. My first impression was that he was a medical doctor, and it was shocking that she was smoking in his office. I wonder if patients did smoke in doctors' offices in those days... Today, I imagine it might be difficult to find even a psychologist who would allow you to smoke in his/her office-- and I'm positive that GPs wouldn't. (Incidentally-- because being "shocked" by smoking in a story makes me sound disgustingly... something-- I'm not one of those people who think it is almost immoral to smoke-- so long as you aren't inflicting it on someone who can't get away from it-- but I'm glad the days of "smoking sections" in restaurants, etc. are over. Sorry, smokers, but it stinks. Oh, and makes people sick. That too...)
--"'My husband,' Mrs. Arnold went on. 'I don't want him to know that I'm worried, and Doctor Murphy would probably feel it was necessary to tell him.' The doctor nodded, not committing himself, Mrs. Arnold noted."
Hmph! I wonder if the doctor would've felt obligated to notify her if Mr. Arnold had gone to him and asked for a private opinion...
-- "'I don't understand the way people live. It all used to be so simple. When I was a little girl I used to live in a world where a lot of other people lived too and they all lived together and things went along like that with no fuss.'"
...Is it bad that I can relate? Mostly about the "it all used to be so simple" part. No, I'm sure most of us feel that way. Of course life was simple when we were little!