(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

A grown woman recalls her friendship with Eily Hogan, and from the opening paragraph, the reader is alerted by her remark that she has been “connected” with Eily’s life. At first, that connection takes the form of romantic admiration. The narrator sees Eily as a high-spirited person who brings excitement into their dull lives. Their childhood bond, based on play, soon becomes a bond of collusion when Eily begins a sexual relationship with a bank clerk. The narrator helps Eily to cover her tracks when she goes out into the woods to meet Jack, whom they call Romeo, and their shared sense of the danger and sinfulness of what they are doing colors the romantic glow with foreboding. Images of violence and guilt have been prominent from the beginning, even in their childhood games of hospital. This first phase ends in a triumphant scene in which the girls meet in a meadow and Eily produces a bottle of perfume. The narrator’s most intense pleasure in their friendship is focused on this moment.

When the bank clerk ends the liaison rather brutally, the girls enter a new phase of their collusion. The narrator tries to calm Eily’s suicidal thoughts, and together they visit a fortune-teller. This unpleasant and witchlike character encourages Eily to believe that the dream of Jack’s return will come true. Overlooking the sinister note in the witch’s words, “You’ll end your days with him,” they return home in joyful anticipation of a reunion with...

(The entire section is 564 words.)