Beast and Bird
Every Sunday morning, at seven o’clock promptly, the two Polish girls crossed the park and walked fifty blocks downtown to church. Early morning: the avenue wide as a farmer’s field, the sunlight tempered with frost. The girls were bare-legged, in ankle socks and long coats, their blond hair dark at the ends from their morning ablutions. The younger, Annie Lubicki, was also the prettier. She had just turned sixteen.
Knowing less, Annie listened more than she spoke. Frances Zroka was three years older, a city girl from Passaic, New Jersey. Occasionally she went on dates. Annie had seen her waiting at the curb–wearing dark lipstick, nylon stockings instead of socks, a pocketbook looped over her elbow. Annie had never been on a date. She spent her free day looking in shop windows, or sitting alone in the park.