This is a retrospective story that does a great job of contrasting the present with the memory. The narrator at one point compares a character’s flesh to plastic, but then interjects that of course back then we said “celluloid” not “plastic.” She is an old woman now but is recalling when she was a girl and had a job helping to take care of a man who had leukemia. She would go to the house a couple of days a week where the man’s stepmother presided and the man’s wife was tolerated. In addition there was Roxanne, the character who stirs up the trouble in the story, a temporary ally of the stepmother. In the end, the dying man enlists the girl’s help, from which she learns. It’s a delightful story, and gripping.
December 22 & 29, 2008: “Some Women” by Alice Munro
[Note: the link is to the New Yorker archive, which requires free registration to view.]