Edith headed back down the stairs and saw Ruth scraping cookies off the baking sheet and dropping them in a tin. She pressed the lid onto the tin and handed it to Edith.
Her mother's eyes ignited. "Are you chewing gum?"
"Yes." Edith never could lie.
Her mother yanked open the lid of the garbage can. "Spit it out. It's unladylike. You look like a flapper."
A little thrill raced up Edith's spine at the idea of being a flapper. She saw them around Simcoe. She saw them in front of the department store downtown, with their horn-rimmed glasses and their straight, loose dresses, and their hair cut into bobs that covered their ears and exposed the backs of their pale necks. Occasionally, as she thought of them, Edith felt a jolt of sexual electricity rush through her, heat that pooled in her groin and her cheeks. Some of the women were younger than her, yet they were so confident. Edith occasionally posed in the mirror in her bedroom, her hip jutted out, imagining somehow that their elements of style—the knee-length skirts, the sleeveless blouses, the long, ropey strings of pearls and the flasks strapped to their hips like weapons—could be pieced on her in a way that made sense.
She headed out onto the sidewalk and passed the Woodfords' driveway. The young man was there again, sucking on a narrow cigarette. He nodded to Edith, and Edith nodded back.
"Cookies for a neighbor," she called, holding up the tin. Even as she smiled brightly, she wondered what the hell she was doing. Why tell him where she was going? It wasn't as if he cared. The polite smile stayed on his face, and he nodded again as if to say good day. The conversation was over.