From "Believers," an O. Henry Recommended Story
Rose watched him from the kitchen as she filled two mugs with coffee. She arranged them on a tray along with cream, sugar, spoons, napkins. She'd gone out early that morning, before Richard left for work, and picked up a few cinnamon buns. Did they have sweet things in prison? Richard had sat up with her all night, asking her to please guess what he might want from her, from them. Rose noticed the way he kept putting her on his side, and Barry on the other. "He's my father," Rose said at one point, closing the discussion. Now that she was looking at Barry again, up close this time, she saw that although he looked different there were more similarities than she'd noticed that day on the sidewalk. He had the same way of becoming the main focal point of the room. It was more than his appearance, his hair standing on end, the rough way he handled the cushions of the couch. Where Richard had a habit of blending in to Rose's peripheral vision, Barry had a way of drawing her eye back to him. She watched him cross his legs, left knee over right, and this one detail forced her to put down the coffee pot and hold on to the counter. As a child, she'd been fascinated by this odd contradiction in him, the splash of refinement. Despite filthy socks, two days' worth of stale booze emanating from his pores, there he'd go, crossing one leg over the other as if he were a British lord.
("Believers" by Mary Beth Keane first appeared in Antioch Review. Copyright © by Mary Beth Keane. Excerpted by permission of the author.)