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Print Stories August 2, 2000
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John Cheever
The Stories of John Cheever
1978

"On Sunday, I sneaked seven cigarettes in various hiding places and drank two Martinis in the downstairs coat closet. At breakfast on Monday my English muffin stared up at me from the plate. I mean I saw a face there in the rough, toasted surface. The moment of recognition was fleeting, but it was deep, and I wondered who it had been. Was it a friend, an aunt, a sailor, a ski instructor, a bartender, or a conductor on a train? The smile faded off the muffin but it had been there for a second--the sense of a person, a life, a pure force of gentleness and censure--and I am convinced that the muffin had contained the presence of some spirit. As you can see, I was nervous."

-- from "The Death of Justina"

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