Unfinished Desires: Maud, Christmas 1951

Maud Norton had always loved reading, but David Copperfield was making her aware that someone else’s story, if told a certain way, could make you ache as though it were your own.

From the lodge’s screened porch three floors below, her mother’s coquettish murmurs alternated with Mr. Foley’s oily baritone replies. Maud was glad their words were inaudible. The rhythms in themselves were bad enough.

By tomorrow her class was supposed to have read to the end of chapter 11 and updated their Life Chart on David. “When you finish the book,” Mother Malloy had told them, “you will see the progress of a life on your chart.” Maud had skipped ahead to find out if David would definitely go to live with Mr. Micawber so she could enter his new address on her chart. Assured of that, she could go back to the chapter’s beginnings and savor the certainty that things were going to get a little better for David, who had been sent away by Mr. Murdstone to wash bottles in a slummy warehouse.

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