It was something that he couldn’t place, exactly, what drew Will to her. Margret was a classy lady, a real girl, but she wasn’t at the same time. He supposed if she had of been, he wouldn’t have liked her. She wasn’t the lady in the red dress, after all. Oh, she could turn heads, if she dolled herself up, easy. She’d certainly caught his eye.
But it wasn’t– it wasn’t like she was a proper dame. Oh, she could fake it really well. But Willard knew when she thought no one was looking that she lit up a smoke, and that there was a jar of moonshine in the dresser, and he had a feeling the flower vase half-full of coins was actually a swear jar, meant to keep her language clean as anything.
On Saturdays she had gentlemen visitors, but they’d be gone by Sunday, when she headed out for morning mass. Throughout the week she had lessons, kids from the community coming into her home and sitting in front of the baby grand piano in her living room, wringing out the sound of strangled cats from perfect ivory. Margret would stand behind them and watch, sometimes, or sit beside them and play a few cords, let them hear how the symphonies were supposed to sound.
When they left, at night, some days she would sit down on the bench herself, and play a few lonesome melodies that bent his heart in half. She was good at it, soft sounds lit through the streets, spilling from bay windows. She never closed the curtains. Margret wasn’t a young woman, all modesty or low necklines, she didn’t choose between chaste or sultry. She was her own woman, all around.
And she was lonely. Will could tell. Though honestly, he knew there was nothing that a young brat like him could offer her. She had money, and he didn’t. Pictures on her walls spoke of family and friends that he couldn’t give her. Her gentlemen callers brought her flowers and fine things, and Will could barely keep food on his own table, never mind take her out to a fancy dinner or cook her a nice meal. But she was lonely, and he hated it with every fiber of his being.
She didn’t have a want or a need in her life. It didn’t make her less lonely, and it didn’t take the thought away from him when he headed home at night.
It took a long time to screw up the courage to step into that payphone. Weeks, even.
But she answered her phone even though it was late, and her voice was directed at him and only him, and he knew she was a little bit less lonely when he called.