Iris and the Inevitable Sorrow or The Knock at the Door by Heather A. Slomski

In the oldest part of the city, on a street bustling with foot traffic, a young woman named Iris and her fiancé, Stephen, opened an English-language bookshop so small it gave one the feeling of standing inside a painted telephone booth. The city was cosmopolitan and known for its multi-lingual readers and so seemed a good place for the American couple to go into business.

One afternoon in February, Iris put on her long, herringbone coat and went to post some mail, leaving Stephen in the window changing the display to Sappho, Euripides, Shakespeare, the Brontës, D. H. Lawrence—writers whose age-old understanding of the interrelation between tragedy and love, of the dependency of one on the other, was sure to sell that month. As she walked past the bookshop Iris waved to Stephen, who, halfway up the ladder, was stringing silver hearts from the ceiling.

A quarter of an hour later when she returned, the shop was locked and Stephen was not inside. A half-dozen hearts dangled above her head—the rest lay lifeless on the top rung of the ladder. On the wooden desk piled with books and papers was a red envelope, scribbled with her name. Inside was a card with a small pink heart on the cover, and upon opening it she found in Stephen’s handwriting the words “I’ve met someone.” Underneath his signature he apologized for the misleading card, but Valentines were all he could find in the shop.

When Iris returned home that evening to their third-floor flat in the narrow three-story building, Stephen’s shoes were not on the doormat. His coat was not hanging on the coat-tree. His toothbrush was not next to hers in the cup; his books weren’t on

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