(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

As the story opens, Sandy has gone indignantly to the bank to correct what she believes to be a bank error showing her checking account to be three hundred dollars overdrawn. To her humiliation, the bank officer confronts her with five checks—all bearing the signature of Winston, the man with whom she lives. She reacts to the officer’s condemning stare with a stupor of silence and immobility, so that someone must be called to drive her home. Ironically, Anthony Smith, Winston’s drug connection, arrives and Sandy rides silently home while contemplating the first spring with Winston, wondering “if it wud be beautiful.”

Amid Sandy’s own despairing confusion and Winston’s crying, he confesses that “I’m hooked again on stuff.” Having been first addicted at seventeen, he explains that he realizes that he “shouldn’t have done that” this time: He has used heroin with his friends from prison because he felt sorry for them and because he had wanted to help them overcome their self-hatred and their addiction. He claims, however, that he has not been addicted long and that he will withdraw from the habit the next day, on Saturday. Swearing that he loves Sandy and her children, Winston begs her forgiveness and promises to stop hitting her, to get a job, and to spend more time at home.

Sandy’s first response is to ask about the welfare of her children, but she stutters so badly that she must resort to writing Winston a note; learning that her babies are asleep, Sandy writes that she is tired, has a headache, and wants only to sleep. As Winston leaves to get sleeping pills for her and for himself (to use in his withdrawal the next day), Sandy drifts off to sleep. When she awakes, it is already dark and Winston has returned but, instead of sleeping pills, he has brought her a morphine tablet, and she realizes that he is high again. While Winston explains alternative ways in which Sandy can use the tablet, she sees his needles and blood-soaked cotton.

Again Sandy attempts to speak, only to suffer once more her childhood malady of extreme stuttering. She writes another note, demanding that Winston throw away the...

(The entire section is 884 words.)