Excerpt from The Armor of Light by Lucy Warner

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This story was Tiferet’s 2015 Writing Contest Fiction Winner and appears in our Fall 2015 Print Issue. Download the entire issue in digital format.

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GO AHEAD, RUN. A STEEP HILL, ALL THE WAY DOWN. Haaaaa breathless, the street intersecting Charles Street, a thoroughfare. Wait here. A few possibilities: the luncheonette but she has no money on her; the gift shop ditto. The Public Gardens but it’s cold. The subway; but where to? There’s the bakery where he might remember her and give her something to eat for later, but she’s shy. The drugstore but she has no money on her she reminds herself — not that that has deterred her in the past, as this particular drugstore with its many aisles is a prime spot for shoplifting, one of her best skills she thinks. Although at that moment her skin prickles and she feels the coat of shame envelope her but who cares who cares, she shrugs it off, hunches up, and heads without direction across Charles and into the lair of side streets.

It’s not yet dark which comes so early in the December weeks before Christmas. Ivy now feels determination and turns corners as though with a plan in mind. She hears the soft thuck thuck of the soles of her Oxfords on the sidewalks, she crosses streets, she steers left. Windows are lit; everyone is home whomever everyone is. Not her. She is like the sentry who makes it possible for “everyone” to be safely home in their bright parlors and kitchens. She is guarding them. She knows her military bearing: her brown wool coat, her cropped hair and stern face, knobby knees above dark blue knee socks. She’s on a mission and for a few blocks is satisfied with it.

Lucy WarnerLUCY WARNER grew up in Maine and then Boston, writing from an early age, with a collection of stories Mirrors (Knopf 1969, Andre Deutsch 1970) and stories in The Atlantic and Mademoiselle, with a long time off until recently with stories in Image, Georgetown Review, Persimmmon Tree, and previously in Tiferet. In the interim, Lucy taught high-school age students in the New York City shelter system under the Board of Education, in an entrepreneurial program for homeless mothers, and in a drug rehab. Lucy lives in Manhattan and back in Maine in her mother’s old house.