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The Virgin

In: English and Literature

Submitted By argine13
Words 2581
Pages 11
He went to where Miss Mijares sat, a tall, big man, walking with an economy of movement, graceful and light, a man who knew his body and used it well. He sat in the low chair worn decrepit by countless other interviewers and laid all ten fingerprints carefully on the edge of her desk. She pushed a sheet towards him, rolling a pencil along with it. While he read the question and wrote down his answers, she glanced at her watch and saw that it was ten. "I shall be coming back quickly," she said, speaking distinctly in the dialect (you were never sure about these people on their first visit, if they could speak English, or even write at all, the poor were always proud and to use the dialect with them was an act of charity), "you will wait for me."

As she walked to the cafeteria, Miss Mijares thought how she could easily have said, Please wait for me, or will you wait for me? But years of working for the placement section had dulled the edges of her instinct for courtesy. She spoke now peremtorily, with an abruptness she knew annoyed the people about her.

When she talked with the jobless across her desk, asking them the damning questions that completed their humiliation, watching pale tongues run over dry lips, dirt crusted handkerchiefs flutter in trembling hands, she was filled with an impatience she could not understand. Sign here, she had said thousands of times, pushing the familiar form across, her finger held to a line, feeling the impatience grow at sight of the man or woman tracing a wavering "X" or laying the impress of a thumb. Invariably, Miss Mijares would turn away to touch the delicate edge of the handkerchief she wore on her breast.

Where she sat alone at one of the cafeteria tables, Miss Mijares did not look 34. She was slight, almost bony, but she had learned early how to dress herself to achieve an illusion of hips and bosom. She liked poufs...

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