The Corn Maiden
Joyce Carol Oates
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daughter had been abducted and hadn’t simply run away of her own volition, hers would be the first such case in Skatskill’s history. That was remarkable. That was truly a novelty. “But she didn’t run away. Marissa did not run away. I’ve tried to explain . . .” Another novelty in the affluent Hudson Valley suburbs was the mysterious/suspicious circumstance of the “considerable” time lapse between the child’s probable disappearance after school and the recorded time the mother reported her
girl—begging her not to leave him but to help him. With a part of his brain thinking, calculating—if his assailant understood how she’d hurt him already, if she understood the terrible pain he was feeling, how utterly broken he was, and no threat to her, she would have mercy on him—maybe—and not leave him. The old Lutheran cemetery was just a few miles from Star Lake but so remote a place, no one would discover him even if he shouted for help. Not for weeks, or months. The gravel road leading to
of bribe taking, violations of federal campaign laws, perjury before a federal grand jury. Already the rich man’s daughter has filed for divorce, there’s the quick smile, a suggestion of bared teeth. In the brothers’ childhood house in which Edward lives in a few downstairs rooms Edward stares at the TV screen from which the lost brother has faded uncertain if the thumping sensation in his head is a profound shock, a pang of hurt that must beat within the brother, or his own excitement,
the quick. Don’t you know that man is evil? How can you be so easily deceived by looks? Lyle opened his car door, jumped from the car, stood breathless and staring at the young women as they continued on the walk in his direction; they were laughing together, one of them glanced over her shoulder after Alastor (who was glancing over his shoulder at her, as he pushed into the hotel’s revolving door) but their smiles faded when they saw Lyle. He wanted to stammer—what? Words of warning, or apology?
dazzling smiles, invariably looking much younger than their ages—and felt a stir of pride. That face is one of mine. He liked them, on the whole. And they liked him—they were devoted to him. For all were attractive women, or had been: their well-being depended upon such attractiveness, maintained in perpetuity. Already in their early forties, the blond, fair-skinned women were past the bloom of their beauty, and wore dark glasses indoors, expensive moisturizers and thick creams at night. No