"The Lovely Leave" (SS-3)

"The Lovely Leave"(1943) by Dorothy Parker is the first story in my copy of The Dorothy Parker Reader.  Interestingly enough, it is evidently one of the last stories that she had written.

The story opens in an apartment home where a young wife, Mimi, answers a phone call from her husband, Lt. Steve McVicker.  He is brief, but announces that he will be coming home in a week's time for a twenty-four hour leave before he ships off again.

As soon as Mimi hangs the phone up she is brought back to the last time he came home.  Cringing, she recalls how docile and shy she was in the first bit of the day.  Then, when the strangeness eventually wore off, the stress of the lost hours overtook her, causing her to lash out and start an argument.  Mimi swears to herself that this time will be different.  They will spend all twenty four hours together in bliss, allowing for happy memories to follow them when they separate.

In anticipation of his arrival, she primps and purchases a beautiful dress and nightgown.  The day has finally come and she is ready.  But Mimi and Steve's relationship and quality time together is tested once more.  Instead of his twenty-four hours, he only has a few.

I found this story to be amazing in its simplicity.  Parker manages to take a true to life moment and create a whole story around it.  Because of our current military deployment, the story resonates.  I have a close friend whose husband just shipped out again and I can easily put them in the roles of Mimi & Steve in the 1940's era.  The dialogue between husband and wife is striking.  She needs to be heard, needs her husband to understand what it is like being left behind.  All the while, Steve needs to distance himself, to find normality in the few hours together.  Their conversation is both proper and emotional.  I am looking forward to reading more from my Dorothy Parker Reader.

-18 pages

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