(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Laura, a Brazilian woman, is back in her home after spending time in an institution to recover from an undisclosed mental illness or breakdown. Happy to be home and well again, Laura returns to her old routine of tidying up the house and waiting for her husband, Armando, to return from work. Laura looks forward to doing the things she used to do with her husband. At the same time, she begins to reflect on her fading youth and the fact that she has never had children.

Sitting in her home, she is tempted to doze off, but she reminds herself that she and Armando will go to dinner at her friend Carlota’s house that evening, and she still has much to do to prepare. In a reverie, Laura reviews the things she must do, noting that Carlota would surely despise her liking for routine. She paints a mental picture of how she and Armando will leave the house, with her low, thick hips transformed by a girdle into a more attractive shape. Continuing to daydream, Laura admits to herself that she is neat and ordinary, and a little boring, but seems happy she can let herself go with Armando. Although she realizes Armando seldom listens to her, she is content that she can tell him things without his getting annoyed, as do the maid and others.

Opening her eyes, she sees a vase of flowers, wild roses she bought that morning at the market at the florist’s insistence. Their beauty and perfection strike her as she gazes at them, although she feels a moment of unease and a touch of perplexity, which she vaguely attributes to the roses’ beauty. Hearing the footsteps of Maria, the maid, she decides to have Maria...

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