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“Briony’s going to tell everybody the truth. She wanted to see me first.”
He turned back to Briony. “Did you think I might be here?”
Her immediate concern was not to cry. At that moment, nothing would have been more humiliating. Relief, shame, self-pity, she didn’t know which it was, but it was coming. The smooth wave rose, tightening her throat, making it impossible to speak, and then, as she held on, tensing her lips, it fell away and she was safe. No tears, but her voice was a miserable whisper.
“I didn’t know if you were alive.”
Cecilia said, “If we’re going to talk we should sit down.”
“I don’t know that cheap air max 1 I can.” He moved away impatiently to the adjacent nike air max 1 black wall, a distance of seven feet or so, and leaned against it, arms crossed, looking from Briony to Cecilia. Almost immediately he moved again, down the room to the bedroom door where he turned to come back, changed his mind and stood there, hands in pockets. He was a large man, and the room seemed to have shrunk. In the confined space he was desperate in his movements, as though suffocating. He took his hands from his pockets and smoothed the hair at the back of his neck. Then he rested his hands on his hips. Then he let them drop. It took all this time, all this movement, for Briony to realize that he was angry, very angry, and just as she did, he said,
“What are you doing here? Don’t talk to me about Surrey. No one’s stopping you going. Why are you here?”
She said, “I nike air max 1 sale had to talk to Cecilia.”
“Oh yes. And what about?”
“The terrible thing that I did.”
Cecilia was going toward him. “Robbie,” she whispered. “Darling.” She put her hand on his arm, but he pulled it clear.
“I don’t know why you let her in.” Then to Briony, “I’ll be quite honest with you. I’m torn between breaking your stupid neck here and taking you outside and throwing you down the stairs.”
If it had not been for her recent experience, she would have been terrified. Sometimes she heard soldiers on the ward raging against their helplessness. At the height of their passion, it was foolish to reason with them or try to reassure them. It had to come out, and it air max 1 was best to stand and listen. She knew that even offering to leave now could be provocative. So she faced Robbie and waited for the rest, her due. But she was not fri nike air max 1 ghtened of him, not physically.
He did not raise his voice, though it was straining with contempt. “Have you any idea at all what it’s like inside?”
She imagined small high windows in a cliff face of brick, and thought perhaps she did, the way people imagined the different torments of hell. She shook her head faintly. To steady herself she was trying to concentrate on the details of his transformation. The impression of added height was due to his parade-ground posture. No Cambridge student ever stood so straight. Even in his distraction his shoulders were well back, and his chin was raised like an old-fashioned boxer’s.
“No, of course you don’t. And when I was inside, did that give you pleasure?”
“But you did nothing.”
She had thought about this conversation many times, like a child anticipating a beating. Now it nike air max 1 red was happening at last, and it was as if she wasn’t quite here. She was watching from far away an nike air max 1 grey d she was numb. But she knew his words would hurt her later.
Cecilia had stood back. Now she put her hand again on Robbie’s arm. He had lost weight, though he looked stronger, with a lean and stringy muscular ferocity. He half turned to her.
“Remember,” Cecilia was starting to say, but he spoke over her.
“Do you think I assaulted your cousin?”
“Did you think it then?”
She fumbled her words. “Yes, yes and no. I wasn’t certain.”
“And what’s made you so certain now?”
She hesitated, conscious that in answering sh nike air max 1 leopard e would be offering a form of defense, a rationale, and that it might enrage him further.
“Growing up.”
He stared at her, lips slightly parted. He really had changed in five years. The hardness in his gaze was new, nike air max 1 premium and the eyes were smaller and narrower, and in the corners were the firm prints of crow’s feet. His face was thinner than she remembered, the cheeks were sunken, like an Indian brave’s. He had grown a little toothbrush mustache in the military style. He was startlingly handsome, and there came back to her from years ago, when she was ten or eleven, the memory of a passion she’d had for him, a real crush that had lasted days. Then she confessed it to him one morning in the garden and immediately forgot about it.
She had been right to be wary. He was gripped by the kind of anger that passes itself off as wonderment.
“Growing up,” he echoed. When he raised his voice she jumped. “Goddamnit! You’re eighteen. How much growing up do you need to do? There are soldiers dying in the field at eighteen. Old enough to be left to nike air max 1 die on the roads. Did you know that?”
It was a pathetic source of comfort, that he could not know what she had seen. Strange, that for all her guilt, she should feel the need to withstand him. It was that, or be annihilated.
She barely nodded. She did not dare speak. At the mention of dying, a surge of feeling had engulfed him, pushing him beyond anger into an extremity of bewilderment and disgust. His b air max 1 reathing was irregular and heavy, he clenched and unclenched his right fist. And still he stared at her, into her, with a rigidity, a savagery in his look. His eyes were bright, and he swallowed hard several times. The muscles in his throat tensed and knotted. He too was fighting off an emotion he did not want witnessed. She had learned the little she knew, the tiny, next-to-nothing scraps that came the way of a trainee nurse, in the safety of the ward and the bedside. She knew enough to recognize that memories were crowding in, and there was nothing he could do. They wouldn’t let him speak. She would never know what scenes were dri cheap nike air max 1 ving this turmoil. He took a step toward her and she shrank back, no longer certain of his harmlessness—if he couldn’t talk, he might have to act. Another step, and he could have reached her w nike air max 1 ebay ith his sinewy arm. But Cecilia slid between them. With her back to Briony, she faced Robbie and placed her hands on his shoulders. He turned his face away from her.
“Look at me,” she murmured. “Robbie. Look at me.” ③

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