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The Short Form

“Girls in Their Summer Dresses”

Irwin Shaw

Excerpt

They walked between the crowded benches, under the scrubby citypark trees.

“I try not to notice it,” Frances said, as though she were talking to herself. “I try to make believe it doesn't mean anything. Some men're like that, I tell myself, they have to see what they're missing.”

“Some women're like that, too,” Michael said. “In my time I've seen a couple of ladies.”

“I haven't even looked at another man,” Frances said, walking straight ahead, “since the second time I went out with you.”

“There's no law,” Michael said.

“I feel rotten inside, in my stomach, when we pass a woman and you look at her and I see that look in your eye and that's the way you looked at me the first time, in Alice Maxwell's house. Standing there in the living room, next to the radio, with a green hat on and all those people.”

“I remember the hat,” Michael said.

“The same look,” Frances said. “And it makes me feel bad. It makes me feel terrible.”

“Sssh, please, darling, sssh. . . .”

“I think I would like a drink now," Frances said.