At the Center of the Sailing World

I.


On all but the coldest days of that year, the neighbors could see him taking his wife for a walk. She was loved. Neighbors, colleagues, students, strangers in the grocery line or public library—no one in the small lakeside town had been able to resist the chatty little Englishwoman who’d taught history at the high school. When she opened her mouth and that canorous accent came pouring out, people had listened with smiles on their faces. They’d asked indulgent little questions about Princess Di and taking tea, about double-decker buses, rain, warm beer, and what it was like for Susan and Lomax living in this tiny place out in the middle of the cornfields.

Every afternoon at four, Lomax could be seen leading Susan down to the lakeshore path, holding her hand, sometimes going ahead and waiting patiently for her to catch up. She came dawdling along, stiff-kneed, lurching. They continued slowly on, Lomax nodding hello to their lakefront friends out on their decks and patios, Susan staring straight ahead, expressionless.

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